By Maj. Gen. Paul J. Glazar
W here were you at 8:47 AMon Sept. 11? I don't believethere is any Americanwho will not remember exactly where they were when they heard America had been attacked.
The New Jersey National Guardwas in exactly the right place to dealwith the aftermath of this heinous act. Soldiers from units statewide reported to Liberty State Park, armories, operations centers, and even to Ground Zero. Without being called, citizen soldiers, airmen, and sailors began responding to their units; and the units to the site of the disaster without orders. The Spirit of the Minuteman, ready to respond at a moments notice, was in evidence on that day.
The 177th Fighter Wing rushed airplanes and crews to readiness and, in a little more than an hour had armed fighter jets ready to defend our cities against further attacks. Called to active duty shortly after the attack, the Jersey Devils are still patrolling the skies of the northeast corridor.
Our Naval Militia began ferrying relief workers and law enforcement personnel between Liberty State Park and Ground Zero. Sailors reported for duty at our Emergency Operations Center to pull shifts alongside Army and Air National Guard personnel.
Since that day, as America has called more and more of her sons and daughters to duty, the Guard is the sole force that can carry out many of the missions we are being asked to do. United States law prohibits the use of federal troops to perform law enforcement within our civilian communities - you, as National Guard soldiers and airmen, can be called by the Governor as state forces to protect and defend your fellow citizens. That law, Posse Comitatus, is why we are so heavily tasked today: guarding bridges, tunnels, power plants, and airports. It is a role we never thought we would be called upon to perform, but were ready and willing when called - as the Guard has been for more than three centuries. Another law, the interstate compact with New York, enables NJNG soldiers and Naval Militia sailors to perform duty at the Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island supporting the law enforcement agencies combing the wreckage of the World Trade Center. We have similar compacts with all of our neighboring states and most of the states in the northeast.
I can only add my thanks and praise to every citizen soldier, airman, and sailor that serve community and country every day. This test of your readiness and resolve is far from over, but you have demonstrated that you were there when you were needed - and met that challenge Keep up the excellent work.