Tomorrow will be a somber day for many Americans. American flags will be lowered. Candlelight vigils will be held, as we remember a day that changed our world forever. Planes carrying nearly three-thousand innocent people, were taken on a mission of madness on September 11th, 2001. Among the remembrances of the terrorist attacks: a wreath laying, a moment of silence and the playing of “America the Beautiful,” will begin at about 9:30 tomorrow morning at the Pentagon Memorial. A private remembrance will be held for the family members of those lost in the attacks. President Barack Obama will join Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen for the service. The Pentagon Memorial is otherwise open to visitors 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Nine years after the attack, visitors still come night and day to the memorial park. (If you haven’t been there; it’s quite a moving experience. There are 184 stainless steel benches, one for each victim of the attack on Pentagon. Each of them is set over a lighted pool of water.) Vice President Joe Biden is heading up to New York for a service there, while Michelle Obama and former first-lady Laura Bush will pay a joint visit to the Flight 93 memorial near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
A silent killer is claiming the lives of our soldiers at an alarming rate each year. That, from the Defense Department today. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Navy Admiral Mike Mullen calls it an area that can’t get enough focus right now. It’s a tough subject: suicide. But Admiral Mullen says, “When we’re losing as many lives as we are, it is a crisis we have to address.” A Defense Department task force reports that between 2005 and 2009, more than 1,100 service members took their own lives, an average of one suicide every 36 hours. Last year, suicide claimed 309 troops. In 2008, the number was 267. Some reports attribute the spike to multiple deployments and long family separations. The majority of suicides do take place among service members who have deployed. But, Admiral Mullen says, a considerable number occur among those who have not deployed.