Columbus, Ga (WRBL) – 46 new names of the war’s recently fallen soldiers were unveiled during the rededication of the Global War on Terrorism Memorial at the National Infantry Museum Saturday morning.
Notable officials like the 36th Chief of Staff for the Army were in attendance for the ceremony. “So to have the opportunity to be able to come back and honor the men and women who gave so much to the country is a great privilege for me,” says Retired Army General George Casey. Casey was also one of the speakers of the morning.
At the memorial’s centerpiece are eight granite panels etched with the names of 6,990 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines who have died in service to Global War On Terrorism since 9/11.
During the ceremony, a soldier read each of the 46 names and their service branches. Afterward, TAPS was played, then Fort Benning sent three helicopters over the memorial for the Missing Man fly over.
The National Infantry Museum honored 275 family members of the fallen soldiers with Gold Star status. Bradley Willard and his family drove from Atlanta to find his younger brother’s name.
“My brother Bryan was killed in the war on terrorism back in 2006. It was an honor to be here today. It’s great that he’s remembered but all the heroes are remembered,” says Willard.
Families from 30 states and even all the way from Germany, were able to etch their family member’s names on pieces of paper for keepsakes. Chad Caswell was one of the volunteers from Fort Benning’s Ranger school that helped the families.
“Its definitely moving. It helps me see kind of a purpose to what I’m doing and the legacy that they’re leaving,” says Caswell.
The memorial includes elements that reference the attacks of September 11, 2001, which triggered the Global War on Terrorism and America’s response to them. At the front are two concrete pillars representing the Twin Towers.
Bridging the pillars is a 13-foot steel beam that was pulled from the wreckage of the North Tower and given to the museum by New York City firefighters. The beam is attached to each pillar at different heights representing where each was struck by the terrorist-operated aircraft.
“This is not just a South Columbus memorial, it’s not just a Georgia memorial, it is a national memorial and its not just for infantry. This memorial, we work very hard to make it as joint as possible so that we’re honoring the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines.. all that gave their lives for our nation,” says Chairman of the National Infantry Museum Foundation Thomas Metz.