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We remember: JBLE and local community honor Sept. 11
Retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. John Gately, chairman of the Hampton Millitary Affairs Committee, speaks before a crowd gathered at Gosnold's Hope Park in Hampton, Va., Sept. 11, 2012. The crowd consisted of Service members, local police and citizens of Hampton who joined together to pay their respects to the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jarad A. Denton/Released)
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We remember: JBLE and local community honor Sept. 11

Posted 9/11/2012   Updated 9/13/2012 Email story   Print story


by Senior Airman Jarad A. Denton
633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

9/11/2012 - HAMPTON, Va. -- It was a fair autumn wind that blew through Gosnold's Hope Park as Service members, local police and citizens of Hampton, Va., gathered to pay their respects on the 11th anniversary of what has widely been regarded as the single-greatest act of terrorism ever committed on American soil.

"We will not, we cannot forget what happened on this date 11 years ago," said retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. John Gately, chairman of the Hampton Military Affairs Committee. "We remember that day and we hope for a brighter tomorrow."

As the clock struck 8:46 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001, America was forever changed when American Airlines Flight 11 struck the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. Eleven years later, that precise moment was remembered in Hampton by the tolling of a single bell, followed by silent reverence from the crowd.

"That day so much changed for our country and our family," said Donn Weaver, father of U.S. Army 1st Lt. Todd Weaver. "I speak for the nearly 7,000 Americans who gave their last full measure for this nation."

Weaver, whose son was killed Sept. 9, 2010 - while serving in Afghanistan, said Lieutenant Weaver was motivated to join by the events of Sept. 11. Weaver called it this generation's "day of infamy." He also recalled the message put forth by President George W. Bush, after the attacks.

"Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America," Bush said. "These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve."

Weaver said his son's resolve was never shaken, not even at the very end. He and his wife spoke with their son the night before he was killed. He said it was a simple conversation - he asked them for help getting some information. It wasn't a conversation parents would have had if they knew it was going to be the last time they would speak with their son. The next day they were on the way to Dover Air Force Base to welcome their son home in a coffin, with a flag draped over top. Today, Lieutenant Weaver is buried at Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery, alongside countless other national heroes.

"His story is not unlike all the other stories of those who solemnly headed the call," said Weaver. "Memory is mightier than death."

The crowd sat silently as Weaver left the podium before a rifle volley from the Hampton Sheriff's Office rang out through the morning air. People covered their ears and shuddered with each shot, but did not look away.

As the volley concluded, the gunshots were replaced by the soft melodic notes of "Amazing Grace," played by U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Sean Smith. The crowd stood and began to walk toward a table that contained the names of all those who lost their lives as a result of the attack on Sept. 11. Through it all, the message of hope and appreciation was constantly heard from the lips of those in attendance.

"Our lives have been blessed in many ways because we are Americans," said Weaver. "May God continue to bless our United States of America."

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