NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Dozens of veterans and soldiers turned out in the rain Friday for the re-dedication of the horse soldier statue at the 9/11 Memorial.

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There was a 21-gun salute as part of the ceremony.

The special operations soldier on horseback re-tells the story of the small bands of U.S. forces who entered Afghanistan after 9/11, secretly navigating the harsh terrain.

“They crushed al Qaeda and the Taliban and chased them into the mountains of Pakistan,” said Assistant Secretary of Defense Michael Sheehan.

He said it’s a reminder of the sacrifices, including those of Johnny Span, whose CIA agent son, Mike, was the first American killed there.

“Just to know that this is something that’s here on this ground where they attacked us, I think it’s a good symbol,” Span said.

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First Sgt. Kyle Julius said the location is fitting.

“Absolutely,” he said. “To pay homage to the first responders, which was New York City’s firemen and policemen that went into those buildings as well as we were the first responders overseas.”

“They told us ‘Get on the horse and let’s move,'” said Master Sgt. Michael Elmore, who was also there, covertly launching the war against the Taliban.

The horse soldier is now standing guard over sacred ground and to Lt. Gen. John Mulholland, it’s a clear message.

“If you attack this nation, you do so at your peril. That we will come find you and you will pay,” he said.