The first statue at New York's Ground Zero -- one of the three sites of the "9/11" September 11, 2001 Al Qaeda terrorist attack on the United States -- will honor the Special Forces of the Green Berets who responded to then-President George W. Bush's call for a War on Terror.
The monument is to be unveiled during New York's Veteran's Day Parade on Nov. 11, and will depict a lone U.S. commando on horseback in the mountains of Afghanistan, rather than one of the valiant firefighters or police officers who also gave their lives in service, fighting to save others during the conflagration that destroyed the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center that day.
Bearing the motto of the Green Berets, “De Oppresso Liber,” – “To Free the Oppressed” – the monument honors all those who responded to the call to fight Al Qaeda in its home base, then and since.
The statue, created by artist Douwe Blumberg, is made of bronze, stands 18 feet tall and weighs three tons. Embedded in the base of the sculpture is a piece of steel from the fallen Twin Towers of New York City's World Trade Center, bearing the words, “America's Response Monument.”
The story of the start of America's war on terror, with three small hand-picked teams of U.S. special forces, tasked with the unprecedented mission of organizing what eventually became the Northern Alliance, is what inspired the artist, he told The Washington Times.
The small group of 34 troops on horseback organized the group of warlords and freedom fighters that battled Afghanistan's ruling Taliban, the Islamist protectors of the international Al Qaeda terrorist organization, guided by special forces of the Green Berets.
On every mission and during every conversation, their ground commander, Lt. Col. (now retired) Max. Bowers, carried in his pocket a small reminder of why they were there: a fragment of the destroyed World Trade Center.
Ten years later, Al Qaeda founder and leader Osama bin Laden was tracked down and finally assassinated earlier this year by a team of Navy SEALS.
But as the United States prepares to drawn down troops and NATO plans to withdraw by 2014, the Taliban appear to be reasserting their control over Afghanistan.
On Saturday, a Taliban suicide bomber killed 13 American soldiers and four Afghani nationals in Kabul. NATO and Afghan officials were meeting at the time elsewhere in the capital city to discuss transfer of security responsibilities back to the national government.
The bomber rammed his explosive-laden van into an armored NATO bus on a busy four-lane highway in the southeastern section of the city. The road is frequently used by foreign military trainers. The same day, there were two additional attacks, bringing to three the number of Taliban attacks against NATO and Afghan forces. At least 21 people were killed.