“On one of the darkest days in American history, 2,977 Americans lost their lives,” Capt. Sam Waters, Operations Officer at Minot Air Force Base, said as he addressed the people gathered to observe opening remarks and the state of the base’s 9/11 ruck march.
Beginning at 6:09 Thursday morning, the first group of first responder airmen lined up to start a ruck that will last exactly 2,977 minutes. That’s one minute for every life that was lost on Sept. 11, 2001.
They hold two flags that will be folded, cased and flown to New York City to be presented to the Ladder 3 company and the widow of a man who died with Ladder 118.
These airmen may be joined by friends or family and will rotate each hour.
Some have signed up to march for up to 12 hours throughout the event, all to honor what took place on and after Sept. 11.
“Don’t forget the history of part of why we do what we do today,” said Capt. Waters.
Jack and Jan Davis are visiting from Colorado, as their son is an airman stationed at Minot Air Force Base.
Jack was a part of the Colorado task force that was deployed to New York City 10 days after the 9/11 attacks.
They were prepared to be of whatever help they could.
“As far as our mission, we had no real clue as to what we were going to be doing and what to expect,” Jack said. “Of course once we got there it was unbelievable as to what we saw and what really took place.”
As he joined others in the early hours of Thursday morning to observe, they share a common mission to make sure 9/11 and the thousands of victims and first responders are never forgotten.
He said, “Remember all of the efforts of people that are always willing to do the ultimate, and try not to get caught up in all the little things.”
The nearly 3,000-minute ruck will conclude at 7:46 a.m. CT on Saturday, Sept. 11 — the time that the first of the Twin Towers was struck 20 years ago.
“You [airmen] have a responsibility to show the world, despite the significant challenges we face, we can come together as one to show a stranger that they are not forgotten,” said Capt. Waters.
The ruck will last day and night until Saturday morning.
Last year marked the first 9/11 ruck march on Minot Air Force Base.