FORT RILEY — Although reminders of the September 11 terrorist attacks can bring back painful memories, ceremonies such as one held at Fort Riley Wednesday can bring together people to reflect on the events of that day.
The ceremony, honoring Fort Riley soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq, commemorated the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The names of four soldiers killed during the past year were added to the Global War on Terrorism monument on post. The four were Capt. James Nehl, Staff Sgt. Matthew H. Stiltz, Sgt. Joseph A. Richardson and Sgt. Channing Hicks.
Maj. Gen. Paul E. Funk II, commanding general of Fort Riley and the 1st Infantry Division, recounted the stories of many affected by the events of that day, such as a soldier who lost both legs in an IED blast. In his bed in Iraq, the man told Funk, “This will not define me.”
Funk also spoke of a soldier who, after experiencing an IED blast and becoming a triple amputee, said he would do it all over again to fight for his country.
“I tell these tales because they won’t,” Funk said.
Staff Sgt. Ryan Zorn was another man whose life and family were affected by the attacks. Zorn joined the Army in 1993 and died in Iraq in 2009. His parents attended the ceremony Wednesday and said it brought back difficult memories.
“When Ryan died, it was like the foundation of our life was cracked,” his mother, JoAnn, said. “It’s taken a long time to heal, but we’re getting there.”
The Zorns said events such as these give them a sense of community with other military families. Myron Zorn said he initially worried that he had died alone, half a world away. He soon realized that was not so.
“I didn’t realize how close-knit this organization is,” Myron said. “He died with his family and friends.”
The Zorns said coming together with other families reminds them of the difference their son made in the world.