Ship helps me remember to ‘Never forget’

Published 8:16 am Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sept. 11th, 2001, or 9/11 as we commonly refer to that day, is one of those unique events which every American remembers exactly where he or she was and what they were doing when they first learned of the attacks.

I spent that morning volunteering at Franklin Fire & Rescue Station 1 when Capt. Ronny Griffin yelled for me to come watch the events as they unfolded live on TV.

A day and a half later, 11 other members of Franklin Fire & Rescue and I were at Ground Zero, helping in any small way that we could — from organizing supply depots to recovery operations.

I remember looking at the mass devastation across Lower Manhattan and thinking that while payback was a must, we as a nation must be strong and resilient, that we needed to recover while never forgetting the tragedy of that day.

Sept. 11, 2009, is a special day for me. I write this letter from Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding in Avondale, La., as the command duty officer onboard the U.S. Navy’s newest amphibious warship, the USS New York.

This state-of-the-art ship was constructed using 7.5 tons of steel from the World Trade Center Towers to form the bow-stem — the very same steel that told a story of unspeakable devastation on 9/11.

American resolve transformed that steel into a magnificent and awesome vessel that will safeguard our nation, defend freedom and protect liberty.

So, for me, a New York City metropolitan area (Jersey City, N.J.) native, to be a part of the crew that brings the ship alive allows a unique opportunity to honor the sacrifices of those who were killed that day and keep their memories alive.

My ship’s motto is “Strength forged through sacrifice. Never forget.”

It was inspiring and emotionally powerful to walk to the forward section of the ship this morning and place my hand on what was once the twisted steel wreckage of Ground Zero. To say that I experienced a sort of spiritual essence may be an understatement.

I believe America remains the greatest country in the history of the world, mostly due to the strength, character and spirit of the American people.

We need to always move forward to remain strong, free, determined and steadfast in the pursuit of the American way of life else the forces of evil will do all in their power to take it away.

God Bless America and very simply, “Never forget.”