GREAT LAKES (NNS) -- Training Support Center (TSC) held a remembrance ceremony, Oct. 12, honoring the 17 Sailors who lost their lives and 39 Sailors who were injured during the terrorist attack against the USS Cole (DDG 67) 17 years ago in Aden, Yemen.
Following a moment of silence at the USS Cole Bachelor Enlisted Quarters, the names of the honored Sailors were read aloud and bells struck in remembrance as a ceremonial wreath and roses were presented, followed by the playing of "Taps." The roses represented the purity of the souls lost that day and the thorns represented the pain they left behind.
The guest speaker at the ceremony was Pamela L. Jacobsen, an instructor at Center for Surface Combat Systems Unit (CSCSU) Great Lakes and a retired master chief who served on the ship during the bombing.
"We must ask ourselves what we have done to give those 17 deaths meaning," said Jacobsen. "Seventeen years have passed. One year for every Sailor who died defending freedom and democracy around the world; words we say, or hear, in the Sailors Creed."
Jacobson wanted to express to the audience that these men and women aren't just names we read each year. They were real people who left parents, spouses and children behind.
"Daily, I think about what those 17 would be doing today," she said. "Some of them would be grandparents by now. Some may have been promoted to master chief, and others might be running their own businesses or serving as congressmen. But they will always be young and were taken far too soon. Time has stood still for them, but not for us. We need to be focused on preserving those memories in a positive way. We must create a legacy worthy of those deaths. How do we do that? We do that by making each and every day count...We do that by being kind to one another and treating each other with respect. We do that by giving 110 percent every single day."
The blast tore a 40-by-60 feet hole in the side of the ship. Sailors fought for 96 hours, freeing shipmates trapped by twisted wreckage, containing flooding, and restoring engineering systems vital to the ship's survival.
Along the shores of the Elizabeth River at Naval Station Norfolk the Cole Memorial site features 17 low-level markers signifying the youthfulness of the Sailors, whose lives were cut short. Three tall, granite monoliths, each bearing brass plaques, stand for the three colors of the American flag. A set of brown markers encircling the memorial symbolize the darkness and despair that overcame the ship. In addition, 28 black pine trees were planted to represent the 17 Sailors and the 11 children they left behind.
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