Fort Bragg soldier, Fayetteville firefighter say 9/11 terrorist attacks inspired them to serve

Cumberland County News

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (WNCN) — As America pauses to remember the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, heroes in our own backyard say the attacks that day made them want to serve our country.

“We will never forget” wreaths were front and center as Lt Gen. Michael Kurilla spoke to an audience of first responders and military members at the XVIII Airborne Corps 9-11 Remembrance Ceremony at Fort Bragg Friday.

“Almost 3,000 American civilians, 343 firefighters, they ran into those buildings,” said Sgt. Clayton White. “Those guys gave their lives for other Americans.”

White watched the horror unfold from school that day.

He knew from that day on he would one day serve our country.

“I think that kids today and future generations need to know about this day,” White said. “It’s an important part of our history, and we have to preserve our history.”

Teaching new firefighters about line of duty deaths is something Fayetteville Fire Department Capt. Stephen Shakeshaft does on a regular basis.

“In my recruit academy we discuss a line of duty death every single day,” Shakeshaft said. “Every day we remind them of the cost of this job.”

Shakeshaft became a firefighter in 2002 in large part because of the heroes he saw just a year earlier as he watched from Pennsylvania.

“It really hit home when the plane went down in Shanksville which was about two and a half hours from where I was, realizing that it can happen anywhere,” Shakeshaft said. “It’s very important that we teach the next generation not just how to do things, but why we do them and 9/11 taught us so much.”

In closing remarks, Lt. Gen. Kurilla said: “Let’s think about how we’ll describe 9/11 to another generation of Americans 20 years from now. Let’s ponder what we want them to understand about that day. But first, let’s make sure we understand it ourselves. Let’s never forget how we felt about one another on September 12, 2001. May God bless Fort Bragg, may God bless our military and may God bless America.”

“The 12th of September that day it didn’t matter who you were you came together as an American,” White said. “I think that’s how it should be every day.”

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