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BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan — More than 200 multinational troops at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, converged in front of the command building to see an I-beam segment from the World Trade Center unveiled during a Memorial Day ceremony May 31.
The event featured U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, as the keynote speaker and U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, the commander of Combined Joint Task Force-82, as the introductory speaker.
“Today is about people,” said McChrystal, addressing an audience that represented all the task forces of Regional Command-East at the RC East command headquarters. “It’s about people who we have lost throughout the years, and, I think just as importantly, it is about people they have left behind.”
McChrystal emphasized the beam’s symbolism. Once it provided structure to a building so that life could be lived inside of it. Now, in front of the RC East headquarters, it would continue to provide structure in the mindset of troops.
Following McChrystal’s speech, troops applauded as Scaparrotti and U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas R. Capel, the CJTF-82 command sergeant major, removed the tarp that covered the 9-foot, 950-pound beam segment.
Residents of Breezy Point, N.Y., donated the beam through an organization called Sons and Daughters of America, Breezy Point. The city of New York had given a number of beams to the residents of Breezy Point after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that killed nearly 30 residents from the small neighborhood in Queens.
After the community constructed a memorial from the beams, Sons and Daughters donated three beams to the U.S. military. One is at the recently opened Infantry Museum at Fort Benning, Ga., and the other is aboard the aircraft carrier, USS Nimitz..
The third beam arrived at Bagram Airfield in March, based largely on the efforts of recently redeployed U.S. Army Maj. Stephen J. Ryan, a governance planner for Combined Joint Task Force-82 who hails from Breezy Point.
As a tribute to its arrival March 31, U.S. Soldiers of the 612th Quarter Master Detachment sling-loaded the beam along with a U.S. flag from a CH-47 Chinook helicopter and flew around the installation with the beam and flag displayed,.
In accordance with the wishes of Sons and Daughters, the beam will remain on loan to successive units in RC East until the last American troops withdraw from Afghanistan. The beam will then be sent to Fort Bragg, N.C.
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