NORFOLK NAVAL SHIPYARD, Portsmouth, Va. —
Eighteen years ago, on Sept. 11, 2001, the American nation was rocked to the core from a terrorist attack.
American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 were hijacked by terrorists and crashed into the Twin Towers at the World Trade center in New York City. American Airlines Flight 77, also hijacked by terrorists, crashed into the Pentagon. United Airlines Flight 93 was also taken over by terrorists; however, the patriots onboard engaged and brought the plane down in Shanksville, Pa. before it could reach its destination. These attacks took the lives of 2,996 people and injured 6,000 others, becoming the single deadliest terrorist attack in human history.
During the panic of the attacks, our nation responded with armed forces, law enforcement, and emergency response personnel launching to where they were needed. Many lost their lives and many others lost family members or friends. Yet they continued on to serve our nation and to protect the American people. Their sacrifice on this day and each day that they serve is a testament to the nation.
Eighteen years later, on what we now call Patriots Day, Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) employees came together for an observance ceremony hosted by the Chief Petty Officer Selects to honor those lost and celebrate our nation as it continues to persevere after the tragedy.
“We’re here to not only remember the fallen but also to celebrate our resolve, promote our national pride, and to thank those military, law enforcement, intelligence and homeland security for their vital and continuous contributions to our nation,” said NNSY Commander Capt. Kai Torkelson. “Just as the generations before us forever remembered the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor, or the day of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, there’s no event in our lives that has had as much searing impact on our national consciousness as that of Sept. 11, 2001. That was a day that forever changed our nation – and in many ways, our Navy and our shipyard. Eighteen years later, I’m very proud to say that our nation, our navy, and our shipyard passed the test with flying colors of red, white, and blue. We sang our national anthem with renewed fervor; we planted our flag with great pride; and as a shipyard we proudly and urgently sent ships out fit to fight, helping to bring justice to those who committed the atrocious acts against our nation as well as those who harbored them.”
Capt. Torkelson continued to share about NNSY’s response to the call to action, not only for Sept. 11 but for any event for which NNSY was called to serve.
“The attack of USS Cole the year before 9/11 revealed both the dangers of terror in the 21st century as well as our shipyard’s vital role in combating it. Following the attack on USS Cole in Yemen in 2000, NNSY sent 22 of our employees to recover fallen sailors and provide relief to the crippled ship,” said Torkelson. “Our volunteers performed work onboard despite triple-digit heat, frequent power outages, and performing repairs while treading water. Those are the kind of proud patriots we have historically had at NNSY.”
“In the days following 9/11, NNSY directly supported the war on terrorism, with many of the ships we completed availabilities for being deployed immediately to the Middle East and Persian Gulf. The Navy sending USS George Washington (CVN 73) to help ensure security in New York City in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 is also particularly noteworthy – it’s because of our shipyard’s efforts performing its six-month planned incremental availability earlier that same year that George Washington was materially and was off the city’s coast a mere day after the attacks,” he said.
He concluded, “Our shipyarders who have served our Navy and nation so well in the past two decades have exemplified what we all know in our hearts. Our service to our nation is a high calling, requiring each of us to make sacrifices to support our uniformed men and women who go into harm’s way. We must deliver readiness today to ensure our safety and prosperity tomorrow.”