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Remembering 9/11 and its legacy

The Pentagon in Washington, D.C., after hijackers crashed a plane into the building Sept. 11, 2001.

The Pentagon in Washington, D.C., after hijackers crashed a plane into the building Sept. 11, 2001.

Sept. 11, 2014

Thirteen years ago today marked one of the most horrific days in American history.


The tragic events that befell our country that fateful day vaulted our military into what will be more than 13 years of war.


We take it for granted that our nation remembers September 11, 2001, and the patriotism that ensued and united this country in the days that followed. But our youngest Soldiers and Airmen today were just entering grade school when terrorists hijacked four planes and set them on a collision course with the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington D.C. The fourth was heroically re-taken by passengers who fought back against the terrorist hijackers and forced the plane to crash in a Pennsylvania field.


Nearly 3,000 Americans died in the attacks, and thousands more would die in the conflicts that followed as the U.S. embarked on wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.


Today, we remain engaged in Afghanistan – this after eight concurrent years of war in Iraq.


Wisconsin has served its nation well since September 11. Nearly 35,000 Badger State citizens have deployed in support of operations in Iraq or Afghanistan. Nearly 12,000 of those Soldiers and Airmen hailed from the ranks of the Wisconsin National Guard, and nearly every unit in the Wisconsin National Guard has mobilized since September 11, 2001.


Still today, more than 250 members of the Wisconsin Army National Guard are serving in Afghanistan with Battery A, 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery, the 829th Engineer Company and Detachment 52 of the Operational Support Airlift Command. Nearly 100 more from the 950th Engineer Company will join them in the coming months, and others remain deployed around the world supporting global operations and combating terrorism.


The post-9/11 world is one in which America’s best and brightest – our military men and women in uniform – are being asked to bear a heavy load to protect our nation from the evils that threaten it from abroad. This generation of warriors has shouldered that burden as valiantly as its predecessor generations carried the torch of freedom in past conflicts.


Our military represents less than one percent of our nation’s population, yet that one percent has been at war for nearly 13 years. For much of that time, it fought two wars simultaneously.


Our military has paid a steep price as its combated terrorism around the globe. The Wisconsin National Guard has lost 10 of its own in combat zones. The State of Wisconsin has lost 125.


Though the events of September 11, 2001, fade further into history with each passing year, we must never forget those who lost their lives that September morning. And we must never forget those that served and lost their lives in its wake to secure our nation in an uncertain world.

Just as important is remembering the unity and patriotism America shared in the days and weeks following the attacks as well as everything that makes this country worth fighting for.

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On Guard – Already Ready

Aug. 11, 2014

By Staff Sgt. Joseph Rasmussen, Wisconsin Army National Guard

August is Antiterrorism Awareness Month

August is Antiterrorism Awareness Month

August is Antiterrorism Awareness Month, and Staff Sgt. Joseph Rasmussen is a DMA Section Marshal assigned as a human resources sergeant with the Wisconsin Army National Guard in Madison, Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs trains section marshals from each tenant office in order to reinforce emergency action planning and to assist supervisors in executing emergency action plans and accountability procedures.

While training near Boston in June, I was able to visit some of the sites that were cradle to our great nation. As a Guardsman, it definitely hit home standing near Concord Bridge, next to the Minuteman statue where “once the embattled farmers stood, and fired the shot heard round the world.” I was, unfortunately, also reminded of a darker and more disconcerting side of Boston’s recent history. While on a run one evening, I passed by the federal facility where the man suspected of killing three and injuring more than 160 at the Boston Marathon is being held until he faces trial.

All of my Boston experiences were reminders to me of the expectations that are upon each and every one of us in the National Guard—civilians and service members alike. We are expected to be minute-men and –women, prepared and willing to act and respond on a moment’s notice—whether we’re fighting tyranny, inclement weather, homegrown violent extremism, a train derailment, or acts of terrorism from abroad.

It’s easy to think that terror attacks would never strike our Wisconsin communities, but it has before (like at UW-Madison’s Sterling Hall), and we cannot afford to be blissfully ignorant to the threats that are out there.

Terrorists specifically target civilians in hopes of inspiring fear and chaos in our everyday lives.

When we acknowledge that the practice of targeting civilians is out there, the proactive question then becomes: How can we prepare against terrorism?

Any athlete will tell us that to be successful we must practice, practice, practice, and then practice some more – until it becomes muscle memory. In our profession, it is sometimes hard to know what to practice for, but success stories from after action reviews in the aftermaths of tragedies around the world show that it is surprisingly simple: Know your surroundings, know antiterrorism strategies, evacuation procedures, emergency protocols, and know the tools you have at-hand.

At work, will your chair break through that window if you need to evacuate your office? Where is the nearest fire extinguisher? How about the automated external defibrillators?

When travelling, pay attention to your surroundings and give some thought to how you can protect yourself. Think about which floor you book your hotel room and keep an eye on your luggage or report suspicious luggage or activities.

Even at home, there are simple security measures that you can implement that might keep your family safe. We are also vulnerable to cyber threats, so ensure you take measures to protect your computer systems.

For more information and tips about how to prepare and protect yourself and your family from potential emergencies, visit http://readywisconsin.wi.gov