German civilians, 2SCR soldiers gather to honor 9/11 victims
VILSECK, Germany — “Strong as steel” was the message at a 9/11 memorial ceremony held at Rose Barracks in Vilseck, Germany, on Sunday.
German civilians from the surrounding community and soldiers from the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment marked their friendship by gathering around a steel beam, a relic of the fallen World Trade Center buildings, which is to anchor a German memorial to the 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S.
The rusted I-Beam, the first World Trade Center artifact in Germany, according to organizers, will become the centerpiece of a memorial in the nearby town of Oberviechtach.
Mike Zimmermann, a teacher in Oberviechtach who founded the town’s German American Firefighters and Friends organization in June of this year in support of the planned memorial, said the artifact symbolized the solid friendship between the two nations.
“The steel that survived the darkest day New York City ever had to face stands for dignity, strength and unity,” Zimmermann told a crowd outside the 2SCR’s headquarters at Rose Barracks.
Zimmermann spoke in a ceremony with Col. Keith Barclay, commanding officer of the 2SCR. Soldiers from the regiment’s 2nd Squadron and Germany’s Panzergrenadierbattailon 122, which is based in Overviechtach, flanked the podium. Both recently fought in Afghanistan.
Lori Allman, 37, wiped away tears as speakers recalled the attack.
“Just remembering the feeling,” she later said. Allman was with her husband, regimental chaplain Maj. Rob Allman, at Fort Eustis in Virginia when they heard the news, she recalled.
“And then we we heard the Trade Centers and the Pentagon (were attacked), it hit home,” she said.
Zimmermann first sought the beam two years ago through a New York City Port Authority program after touring a museum near ground zero, he said. A shipping company volunteered to bring the piece over.
The ceremony was one of several around the Grafenwoehr Training Area in recent days. Earlier Sunday, European Command staff held a brief ceremony at Camp Aachen, where multinational troops are training in a joint-operation exercise.
Soldiers from 18 of the 21 countries that lost citizens in the 9/11 attacks held flags during the ceremony.