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NEWS | Sept. 11, 2021

NNSY’s Patriot Day Ceremony: Remembering September 11th – 20 Years Later

By Jason Scarborough, Norfolk Naval Shipyard Public Affairs Norfolk Naval Shipyard

On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, 19 terrorists from the Islamist extremist group al Qaeda hijacked four commercial aircraft and crashed two of them into the North and South Towers of the World Trade Center complex in New York City. A third plane crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington, Va. After learning about the other attacks, passengers on the fourth hijacked plane, Flight 93, fought back, and the plane crashed into an empty field in western Pennsylvania about 20 minutes by air from Washington, D.C. The Twin Towers collapsed shortly after the crashes due to the damage from the subsequent fires. Nearly 3,000 people were killed from 93 different countries. Most of the fatalities were from the attacks on the World Trade Center. At the Pentagon, 184 people were killed, including civilians and service members, and 40 people were killed on Flight 93. It was the worst attack on American soil since the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in 1941.


Armed forces, law enforcement and emergency response personnel courageously and tirelessly worked to save lives after the attacks. After nearly 3,000 lives lost and approximately 6,000 people injured, the country would never be the same, and although the tragedy left our nation scarred, we continue to heal and continue to be resilient.


This year marks the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) held a Patriot Day ceremony to commemorate the lives of those lost and the courage and bravery of all the first responders who helped save lives during the historic attack. NNSY’s First Class Petty Officer Association hosted this year’s Patriot Day ceremony with assistance from NNSY’s Military Veteran Employee Readiness Group.


Culinary Specialist First Class Petty Officer Matthew Yacobellis served as the Master of Ceremonies and  shared  his story with the audience, living with his family in New York City at the time of attack. He stated, “Certain events in history have a long lasting, far reaching effect on a society. Every generation has some historical events they live through where it affects them in a profound way. For my grandparents it was the World Wars and Korea, for my parents it was Vietnam and the Cold War.

For my generation, the one that was born in the early 80s and lived through the transition of always being outside getting dirty to living on cell phones, it was the events of September 11, 2001.”


At the ceremony, NNSY’s Shipyard Commander, Captain Dianna Wolfson, discussed the significance of remembering and honoring the victims and the families of the 9/11 attacks.


Wolfson stated, “While it is so significant to reflect on the September 11th attacks every year, somehow it feels even more so as we observe the 20th anniversary. The September 11th attack was one of the defining events of our national history.  Just as the generations before us remembered where they were and what they were doing when they learned of the attack on Pearl Harbor, for those old enough to remember them, the events of September 11, 2001 are seared into our memories forever.”


An entire generation has been born after the 9/11 attacks. To ensure our Nation always remembers those whose lives were lost, it is important to tell our young people those stories and explain how the sacrifices made that day and since then are relevant to their lives today. Patriot Day on Sept. 11, is a time of remembrance and a time where it is encouraged that those with direct memories of the  attacks educate our younger audiences about the devastation of that day, but more importantly, about the resilience and fortitude of the American people.