Editorial: Patriot Day
by William L. Enyart
Major General ILARNG
The Adjutant General
Nine years ago, on Sept. 11, 2001, our country experienced major devastation in New York, across the country and across the world. As we reflect on memories from those tragic events of Sept. 11, let us be mindful of the contributions our Illinois National Guard Soldiers and Airmen have made in the last decade to defend our nation.
Since Sept. 11, we have deployed approximately 9,600 soldiers and 8,800 airmen in support of operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF). In January 2003, we deployed three of our units as part of the first groups in support of OEF and OIF to Iraq. Company A, 2nd Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group in Chicago; 244th Army Liaison Team in Chicago and 633rd Personnel Services Battalion in Crestwood were the first Illinois National Guard units mobilized.
Like those we lost on Sept. 11, we will also never forget the 33 soldiers and one airman who have fallen in the line of duty, making the ultimate sacrifice since Sept. 11. Of the 34, 19 have died in Afghanistan and 15 in Iraq. On Patriot Day, and every day, we remember the loss of those heroes, our brothers and sisters, while remembering the families, friends and loved ones they have left behind.
Over the next year, there are seven different groups deploying from the Illinois Army National Guard to continue our mission; 709th Area Support Medical Company in Peoria; Bilateral Embedded Staff Team A7 in Springfield; Illinois Army National Guard Agricultural Development Team in Springfield; 661st Engineer Company in Sparta; 1644th Transportation Company in Rock Falls; 1244th Transportation Company in North Riverside and Detachment 36 Operational Support Airlift Agency in Decatur.
This Patriot Day, let us not only remember the past, but also look forward to a more secure future. Please take a moment of silence on Saturday and reflect in honor of those we lost Sept. 11 and the ones we’ve lost defending our great nation.