VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- More than 200 Sailors, Gold Star families and friends gather on Sept. 11, for the ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony of the Heroes Circle Nature Trail, on the Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story (JEBLCFS).
“We take time to reflect on the tragic events that took place on September 11, 2001 and honor and memorialize the sacrifices of the men and women who gave their lives during 9/11, while serving and defending our freedom and way of life,” said Capt. Joey Frantzen, commander Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story.
Guest speaker and former Sailor Congressman Scott Taylor, Second Congressional District of Virginia attended the dedication ceremony, which was held in conjunction with the 17th Anniversary of September 11th.
“It was a small moment for us but with a big meaning,” said Taylor. “Just a few weeks ago I stood with tears in my eyes at the site of the twin towers overlooking the continuous waterfall of the 9/11 memorial with my young son. He is too young now, but I want him to know how the world changed our lives forever that day.”
The trail features plaques every eight feet on either side of the trail as a visual reminder of the heroism honoring each of the 83 service men and women who lost their lives in combat, military training or service-related deaths since 9/11.
Taylor reflected on his memories of 9/11, and gave ceremony attendees a snapshot of his time in the Navy and those he served alongside.
As a Sailor who served right here on this base I served with many of these men,” said Taylor. “My thoughts still remain lucid when I think about fighting through ‘Hell Week’ right alongside them. Now we gather to pay tribute, to unveil and to dedicate this trail of heroes. We do so, not simply for them but also for us.”
A highlight of the ceremony was the JEBLCFS-area chief petty officer selectees who contributed to the ceremony by stating each victim's name while ringing a bell in his or her memory.
The conclusion of the ceremony was marked by a 21-gun salute accompanied by Taps played by Fleet Forces Band and the singing of “God Bless America” by the attendees.
“We can only attempt to understand the gravity of the pain and loss of the families,” said Frantzen. “Their legacy lives on through this living land mark. That’s why we are here to reflect. To reflect on their tragic loss of life inflicted on our country through the 9/11 terrorist attack.”
After the ceremony, guests were invited to enjoy the scenic memorial formerly known as the Circle H Nature Trail, which runs through 24 acres of lush forest and freshwater marsh situated on the Little Creek side of the base.
“We are privileged to have a trail with so much meaning,” said Jenifer Williams. “We thank those who have put in the time and effort into making this trail a success so the community can enjoy it for recreational purposes, while recognizing and remembering those impacted by the 9/11 tragic events.”
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