Over 100 guests joined the Supreme Council and Province Archons in the Peace Chapel win the Levere Memorial Temple to unveil the newly dedicated Law Enforcement and Officer Memorial statue.
The memorial is dedicated in memory of the men of Sigma Alpha Epsilon who gave their lives at the World Trade Center and The Pentagon on September 11, 2001, in combat operations since 2001, and in the line of duty protecting communities and enforcing law.
The following excerpt is prepared by Brother Will Grimsley, Chief Executive Officer of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Foundation:
“Good morning and thank you all for being here on this very special day for Sigma Alpha Epsilon and the thousands of men past, present, and future that we call brother. It’s also a special day for the families and friends of our brothers who lost their loved ones in service to something bigger than themselves — many of whom are with us here today. It is impossible to explain why one person is taken over another, but it is fitting that we honor those lost and dedicate something tangible and lasting in their memory. This chapel was envisioned and built expressly for the purpose of recognizing men of SAE –brothers– killed in action in defense of the nation. We live in complex times, where more recently some of our brothers have fallen as a result of attacks on our own soil, while serving abroad in conflict, and protecting their fellow citizens in local communities. Regardless, these men made the ultimate sacrifice and if i may offer a fitting quotation, “greater love has no man than this — that he lay down his life for his fellow man.” And now if you would please, rise for the invocation led by brother christian coon and remain standing for the national anthem.
“greater love has no man than this — that he lay down his life for his fellow man.”
As you look around this beautiful chapel with its spectacular windows, sculptures, frescoes on the ceilings and take it all in-it can be easy to miss other less obvious items. But it is those items-the memorial plaques and monuments-that encompass what this chapel means. It is a place where people worship, marry, convene, and attend lectures-but the names on those memorial plaques, from our hisotry forward to this new millenium, are our men-sae brothers all-who died or remain unaccounted for.
Today we bring forward another memorial to honor brothers who have fallen since 2000, in places near and far from this home in Evanston, Illinois. This freedom memorial was conceived and designed several years ago and we have deferred dedicating it, believing that we might see some end to the conflicts around the world where we have american men and women serving but that has not proven true. It’s fitting and proper that we dedicate it today to honor those lost, in the hope that we never have to add another name.
If you remember where you were on September 11, 2001 you are not alone-most can recall that day very specifically. I was assigned to the joint staff in the pentagon in the summer of 2001 for a one year tour prior to an upcoming command assignment. That morning, two colleagues and i, one navy officer and one air force officer, were representatives at a conference across the potomac river and a block from the white house on the geo-strategic environment and future of conflict: coincidentally the conclusions that were planned to be presented were about a resurgent russia and china as emerging great powers. As we settled into the conference in this penthouse office suite, an assistant to the host came in very agitated and whispered in his ear. The host announced that something was going on in new york city and we would take a short break. He turned on televisions, and almost immediately thereafter we all watched the plane hit the second tower with speculation about other planes in the air. Not long after that, we saw the explosion from our office building, the pentagon, directly across the potomac and watched as the black smoke rose and drifted over arlington cemetary and memorial bridge. The rest of the day was a blur, but the aftermath of that day up to and including this very moment and into the foreseeable future, put us on a path very different from the one most of us anticipated-an era of persistent conflict at home and abroad.
In New York that morning, most did just like the rest of us; got up and went to work or school-part of what makes the united states great is that we have that opportunity to learn, work, and live our lives free to strive towards ever greater success and contribute to society confident in our personal safety and security. In the World Trade Center Towers that morning, at least 6 men like that were brothers of sae who died while living their lives to the fullest. I never knew them, or any of the others on this memorial personally, but indulge me as I relay a short bit about who they were.
- Jeff Coale from University of Maryland had been a bond trader, but really wanted to own a restaurant. Trained as a chef, he became the wine manager at windows on the world in the towers, while saving his money to open his own place.
- Mike Finnegan from University of Richmond was a currency broker with Cantor Fitzgerald, a varsity golfer, father and husband. The last picture taken of Mike was by his wife, when he took time off from work to walk his youngest daughter bridget to kindergarten on the morning of September 10th — telling her not to be scared.
- Eamon McEneaney from Cornell was a senior VP at Cantor Fitzgerald, father of four and an all-american lacrosse player. In the 1993 WTC bombing, he saved the lives of 63 other people by leading them to safety from the 105thfloor through smoke and fire. On 9/11, he made a last call to his wife bonnie but had to leave a message with her assistant at work- “a plane hit the building, tell bonnie and the kids that i love them, and i am trying to make my way out.”
- Andy O’Grady was a Managing Director of fixed income sales for Sandler, O’Neill and partners. A four-year varsity swimmer and letterman at UCLA, engaged to be married later that year.
- Todd Ouida, University of Michigan and 25 years old, was a foreign currency options trader with Cantor Fitzgerald with an office on the 104th His father Herbert, worked in the same tower on the 78thfloor. The plane struck in between. Herbert walked out alive while Todd was killed when the building collapsed above him.
- Bob Rasmussen was a consultant for Vestek working on the 78thfloor of tower 1. A graduate of North Dakota state, married with 3 kids. He called his wife from a meeting that went to voice mail to tell her he was ok right then. He was last seen on the 78th floor and his body never recovered.
It was difficult for me as a professional soldier to accept the loss of innocent americans on our own soil. It’s not any easier to accept the loss of those in uniform, but there is always some expectation that our position may often put us in harms way, although not in an office building on a beautiful september morning. I feel a double bond with these men, that of SAE and the one with every person serving including the over 200 of my own that I’ve buried in the years since 2001.
- Major Cole Hogan from Valdosta State University was an army special forces officer serving a staff tour in the pentagon on 9/11. His wife was a career air force medical officer.
Four men have died in combat operations oversears since 9/11.
- Chief Warrant Officer Tim Flanigan graduated from Indiana State and was an Apache Attack Helicopter Pilot in the Tennessee National Guard. Deployed to Afghanistan, he was killed outside of Kandahar Airfield in 2006.
- Chief Special Warfare Operator Collin Thomas initiated into SAE at Morehead State in 1997 but left school shortly thereafter and enlisted in the Navy. A member of various special warfare teams in his 13 year career, Collin was killed during a raid in Afghanistan in 2010, earning a silver star posthumously and leaving behind a fiancee.
- First Lieutenant Wes Lee from North Georgia, is our most recently loss. An Infantry Platoon Leader in 325thairborne infantry killed while leading his men in an advise & assist mission with Iraqi Security Forces fighting to liberate Mosul, Iraq in 2017.
- First Lieutenant Matt Lynch was an Infantry Platoon Commander in 5th His father and his brother were also Marine Infantry Officers. Matt was killed in an ambush outside Ramadi, Iraq in 2004.
We will never know these men as their families, friends, and chapter brothers did. But today we know a little bit more about each of them, and to appropriately honor them as our own here among their brothers and comrades from conflicts past. While we dedicate this memorial here today, please remember that there are literally thousands of americans deployed around the world in over 170 countries, many of whom are brothers of SAE and in harm’s way on behalf of us all.”
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