By MC2 Amanda E. Brittingham
USS New York Public Affairs
More than 400 Sailors, family, and friends gathered together on the pier next to the bow of the amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21) for a remembrance ceremony to commemorate the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001.
The ceremony included the presentation of a firefighting jacket from a 9/11 survivor, wreath laying, and a gift presented by First Coast Fire and Emergency Services.
Master of Ceremonies, Senior Chief Boatswain's Mate Timothy Clark, opened the ceremony by sharing his gratitude to the crew and guests.
"Thank you all for joining us here today on the 15th anniversary of the attacks that took place on Sept. 11, 2001, and for your steadfast dedication to duty and your patriotism. I would like to thank you for helping us pay homage as we remember those who gave their lives as a result of these tragic events".
USS New York Command Chaplain, Lt. Dirk Caldwell then delivered the invocation.
"Fifteen years ago to the day and the hour, our Nation came to a standstill. All across the country, Americans stood in awe and wonder, confusion and anxiety, and you heard us in our desperation cry out to you," said Caldwell. "As we gather around this mighty ship and stare at its bow stem on this day and in this hour, how can we not remember those tragic events and the lives of those who are no longer with us because of it? It is in honor of them that we pause for these next few minutes and remember them and pray for peace."
Following the invocation, USS New York's Commanding Officer, Capt. Kenneth Coleman, shared his thoughts.
"We are joined throughout our nation in remembering the events of 9/11," Coleman said. "Here on board New York though it's something we do everyday, because on this ship we carry the sacred steel from the World Trade Center in our hull and the lasting memory of the 9/11 victims; civilians, police and firefighters."
"As you hear their stories, take with you a renewed sense of dedication to our Nation and to each other," he added. "Know that your service matters. Your efforts make a difference. You are what make our Nation great and you are what will keep us strong, safe, and free. I am proud to serve with you on this great warship and floating memorial. Thank you for joining us today and as we say on New Yorkâ€¦ 'Never Forget'."
USS New York's Chief Selects, Chief (select) Damage Controlman Juan Garcia, Chief (select) Yeoman TaMeeka Breedlove and Chief (select) Hospital Corpsman Jesse Newton then commemorated the loss during the tragic events of 9/11 by reading short synopses of several of the fallen FDNY and NYPD members from which each speaker drew personal inspiration.
The ceremony concluded with a 21-gun salute by the ship's honor guard and the sounding of taps.
New York was constructed with seven and a half tons of steel from the World Trade Center forged into her bow, which inspired the ship's motto, "Strength forged through sacrificeâ€¦ Never Forget."