Story by Glenn Sircy
JOHN C. STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. – Stennis Space Center Naval Special Warfare (NSW) sailors and civilians gathered for a physical training session and memorial ceremony Sept. 11, 2015, the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorists attacks, at Special Boat Team (SBT) 22 to honor the 2,977 men, women, and children who lost their lives.
More than 100 Naval Special Warfare personnel participated in the physical training session and completed 2,977 deadlifts, sit-ups, pull-ups, and push-ups to honor the 2,977 people that lost their lives that fateful September day in 2001. “Every time you slam down a weight and pull your chin over the bar, think about the people that were lost,” said Shane Levenson, SBT-22’s human performance manager.
The memorial ceremony that followed remembered those who lost their lives with speakers, bagpipes, and prayers.
Chief Special Boat Operator (select) Giovanny Magallon, assigned to Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training Center (NAVSCIATTS), was honored to be a part of organizing the memorial. “I may only get one chance in my career to take lead on such an event, and I wanted to ensure the innocent and brave heroes are well remembered,” said Magallon.
Magallon was also a speaker at the ceremony, and detailed the horrific events that unfolded that day with a minute by minute account of each of the four United Airlines flights hijacked that morning. Magallon’s words were a vivid reminder of the actions that drove the United States to declare war on terrorism. His intent was clear: we will never forget.
“I hope for at least one single moment people feel the fire in their gut and the compassion in their heart that they felt the day we were deliberately attacked,” added Magallon. “I want my fellow service members to remember that we were at peace that morning, and our world changed in front of our eyes. It should serve as fuel for our training in order for us to be prepared.”
The physical training session and memorial ceremony were also a time to reflect upon what 9/11 meant to those that participated and attended.
Logistics Specialist 1st Class Jonathon Casas, assigned to NAVSCIATTS, participated in the physical training session. He wanted to do his part to remember the fallen. “I was a senior in high school, and I remember the communal sadness I felt that day, and today it is a communal remembrance,” said Casas. “I couldn’t do anything back then, but I can do something now.”
The hum of the bagpipes at the ceremony filled Connie Jackson, assistant administrative officer, NAVSCIATTS, with pride. “We need to remember. If we forget what happened, we get complacent. Time should never lessen the impact of that day,” said Jackson.
The ceremony also was significant for Robert Emry, learning standards officer, NAVSCIATTS. “Everyone in this room remembers where they were and what they were doing when the first tower was hit,” said Emry. “We really didn’t know what to do – we weren’t prepared. We used to think it couldn’t happen. The reality is it happened, and it could happen again. We must remain vigilant.”
Lt. Cmdr. Kerry Jackson, executive officer, NAVSCIATTS, expressed his appreciation to the chief petty officer selectees for hosting the ceremony. “The events were very well put together, and I appreciate the time, effort and professionalism each chief select put into this day to honor the 2,977 men, women, and children who lost their lives on 9/11. It is humbling to know those that paid the ultimate sacrifice will not be forgotten,” said Jackson.
The nearly 3,000 people killed Sept. 11, 2001 marked the single largest loss of life from a foreign attack on American soil. That same day, the United States declared “War on Terror”, and citizens patriotically volunteered for military service. After more than a decade, men and women all over America still join the armed forces as a result of 9/11.