USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- When most Americans rolled out of bed Tuesday morning, Sept. 11, 2001, it probably never crossed any of their minds that the entire geopolitical world would be shaken to its very core that day.
The terrorist attacks that occurred in New York City and Washington, D.C. 11 years ago changed the world, and the effects of those attacks were felt in the hearts of Americans around the globe.
On the 11th anniversary of the attacks, Sailors and Marines aboard aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) took time to honor those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001, in a ceremony held in the carrier's hangar bay, a fitting tribute given the Big E's history.
Eleven years ago, Enterprise was beginning her voyage home from the Persian Gulf, following her 17th deployment, when the attacks occurred. Without orders, the carrier returned at flank speed to the waters off Southwest Asia near the Persian Gulf, outrunning her escorts, and becoming one of the first carriers to launch attacks against the perpetrators of the attacks.
Enterprise Commanding Officer Capt. William C. Hamilton, Jr., opened the ceremony with remarks about the impact the attacks had on not only the military, but all Americans.
"Eleven years ago, today, our nation was devastated by the harsh reality of terrorism," said Hamilton. "It was one of those days that we will always remember where we were and what we were doing when we heard of the attack."
Hamilton's speech was followed by a rendition of "Amazing Grace," sung by Religious Programs Specialist 2nd Class Ralph A. Oliver.
In closing, Sailors and Marines observed a moment of silence to honor the lives lost during the attacks. The moment of silence was followed by a benediction, led by Lt. Cmdr. Henry F. Holcombe, a chaplain aboard Enterprise.
The ceremony was coordinated by the Enterprise chief selects.
Chief (select) Cryptologic Technician (Collection) Johann E. Tonnessen, who assisted with coordinating the ceremony, was present in Lower Manhattan during the attacks.
"It was a great honor to be a part of this [ceremony]," said Tonnessen. "Not only because I was actually in Manhattan when the attacks happened, but also because there are many serving aboard this ship who were also there. On top of that, there are also many Sailors and Marines who either lost a loved one that day or know someone who did."
Though some Sailors and Marines currently serving on Enterprise may have been too young to realize the substantial effect that the attacks had upon the American way of life, they see the after effects of that day in September in everything they do.
Today, the crew of Enterprise pushes on with its mission - on its 25th, and final, deployment - remembering those who lost their lives on that day in September. More than a decade later, the crew of Enterprise is still vigilant in taking the fight to the enemy - playing a vital role supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
"On the eleventh anniversary of that dreadful day, we continue to stand the watch and take the fight to those who would do us harm," said Hamilton. "This morning we remember the victims of [9/11] through song, silence and prayer. We must remain vigilant; keep the fight off of our shores and at the enemy's door. [On this day] we remember the victims and pledge to remember their sacrifice - always."
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