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NAS Remembers 9-11Attacks

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Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media
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Flags were at half-staff and half-mast, on Thursday’s 13th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. WUWF’s Dave Dunwoody attended the ceremony at the Naval Aviation Museum aboard NAS Pensacola.

A traditional Navy two-bell ceremony honored the more than 3,000 who died on that day in the three airliners, at the Pentagon, and serving as first-responders. In the opening invocation, Navy Chaplain Todd Orren asked that those close to the victims be remembered.

“The parents who lost children; who never knew a parent. And all who lost someone they loved,” said Orren. “Embrace this grieving nation. Let time never lessen the impact of that day. May we never forget.”

In his remarks the featured speaker – base commander Capt. Keith Hoskins – told the crowd that filled up the museum’s atrium that how September 11, 2001 is remembered is a testament to the resilient American spirit.

“The storm that rained in our memories, the storm that rained down terror on our shores were designed to replace freedom with fear,” said Hoskins. “But it bolstered our resolve and became a defining moment in what will become the next ‘Great Generation.’”

Three service members then spoke about joining the military after 9/11. First up was Navy Corpsman Andrew Nagy – who served in Iraq. He was in the 5th grade when the attacks occurred.

“I suppose I didn’t particularly understand all this,” Nagy said. “Like any 10-year-old, I was enjoying a relatively drama-free life. The advent of technology made the flow of information seamless. And it became difficult to not hear the constant updates on what was transpiring a world away.”

Navy Master at Arms Kathleen Ellison had already served one hitch in the Navy, and was a civilian on September 11. For her, returning to uniform was personal after losing a relative – a New York City firefighter – in the attack.

“It’s because of what we do here today that they hate us so much,” said Ellison. “Assembly, speeches, fraternity, common cause that the jihadists must destroy. They won’t, and you will be a part of that reason.”

Air Force Major Julian Benton was a cadet at the Air Force Academy at the time. He eventually would fly combat missions over Iraq and elsewhere.

“To the military men and women in the room: you were the heroes I saw emulated in books, in games, and movies. You are the reason I joined,” said Benton. “To the civilian men and women in the room, thank you for trusting us to support you, to defend you.”

Benton also had a message for any “enemy of the state” who happened to be listening.

“God have mercy on you. Because we will not.”

Other 9/11 observances included those in New York, Washington and in Pennsylvania; a nationwide ceremony at the White House, and the dedication of the Freedom Bell -- part of the Veterans Tribute Tower at Beal Memorial Cemetery in Fort Walton Beach. 

Dave came to WUWF in September, 2002, after 14 years as News Director at the Alabama Radio Network in Montgomery, Mobile and Birmingham and a total of 27 years in commercial radio. He's also served as Alabama Bureau Chief for United Press International, and a stringer for the Birmingham Post-Herald.