Captain Remembers Sept. 11 Ceremony In Kabul

May 27, 2012
Originally published on May 27, 2012 5:55 am
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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

All this year, we're following the soldiers of the 182nd Infantry Regiment as these National Guardsmen transition from soldier to civilian. Just two months ago, the regiment returned home after a 12-month deployment in Afghanistan. To mark this Memorial Day weekend, we've asked them to share their most vivid memory of the year they spent at war.

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CAPTAIN MICHAEL CURRIE: I'm Captain Michael Currie. I was the garrison commander for Camp Alamo. And my most vivid memory of my time in Afghanistan was the 10th anniversary of 9/11. We started out the day, we started putting American flags up the flagpole, bringing them back down, properly folding them, 'cause we knew we were going to wind up mailing a lot of flags back to our schools, our towns, fire departments that would really appreciate something that was flown over Afghanistan on such a special day. But I think what really stood out the most for me was a ceremony that we thought 20 people was going to be at. We wound up having 300 people in the square. We assumed it was only going to be Americans going to this ceremony. And then we were assembling for it and every country represented at Camp Alamo - the Jordanians, the Romanians, the Australians, the British, the Canadians - they were all showing up. And it really took on this very stoic and important feel, like everybody recognized 9/11. We have the ceremony to coincide with a moment of silence that was going to be held in the United States. So, I think it was late afternoon, but in Kabul, at that time of year it's still bright sunlight and everyone's wearing sunglasses. During the moment of silence, if you were looking around, you could see tears. You couldn't see anyone's eyes but you could see the tears.

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CURRIE: One of our lieutenants, Lieutenant Johnson - not the greatest bagpipe player but I think he knows a couple of Scottish and Irish tunes - but he knows how to play "Amazing Grace."

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CURRIE: And when he started playing "Amazing Grace" to finish out the ceremony, that was something else.

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MARTIN: That was the sound of Lieutenant Johnson playing his bagpipes at the ceremony. It was recorded by Captain Michael Currie. And you can find it on npr.org, or our series Facebook page, NPR Home Front.

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MARTIN: You're listening to NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.