Col. Mills speaks at 9/11 Memorial Rededication

SAN ANGELO, Texas -- Col. Ricky Mills, 17th Training Wing commander, spoke at the 9/11 Memorial Rededication near the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts Sept. 8.

“The victims were noncombatants,” said Mills. “Each was a life. Each had a future, cruelly stolen from them.”

Perhaps the wounds have not closed because the attack took place on our soil, bringing back grim memories of Pearl Harbor. Or perhaps the wounds have not closed because of the vile brutality of the attack … or perhaps, in the end, the wounds have not healed because the struggle is still upon us. After all these years, after so much blood, so much treasure, the war continues and peace still eludes us.”

The original monument was one of the few in Texas that had a piece of steel from ground zero in New York City, according to San Angelo Police Department’s statement last year.

"We were the first city in the state of Texas that actually put up a monument for 9/11, and for us it’s a direct connection to the monument itself and what happened in New York that day,” said Daniel Valenzuela, San Angelo city manager.

In June 2016, unknown vandals stole the original piece from the monument that the Rev. Michael Pfeifer, retired bishop of the Catholic Diocese of San Angelo, helped obtain.

"We pray that the individuals who stole this piece of steel will bring it back,” said Pfeifer. “It has great significance for our community. It's a piece of steel, but it witnessed the death of thousands and thousands of people. It symbolizes something that's bigger than us."

Rosendo Velez, a retired New York emergency medical responder who helped with recovery actions during the 9/11 terrorist attack, contributed the new steel artifact from the World Trade Center to repair the monument.

“The difference between how I and my fellow first responders look at things, like this, and what is in our eyes, compared to most Americans, is I see a cemetery,” said Velez. “I smelled the dead, I smelled the decayed and in my mind’s eye I see the devastation. My friends, the people I really called family died on this day, many more have died from exposure since then. I’m fortunate enough to be here, sick and all. I’m here while my brothers and sister are gone. The world may just see names on a list that are written. I don’t see that. I see faces, I hear voices, I hear laughter and I mourn.”