In the two months that led up to the tenth anniversary of 9/11, three Newport Navy Fire Fighters, Matthew Brown, Michael McLauglin and Dennis Giegory, worked to design and build a memorial garden and monument located at the public safety building at
The structure, which includes steel from the Twin Towers, was constructed to remember and honor the 403 fire fighters and police officers who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.
The audience was quickly reminded of a fire fighter’s constant call to duty; minutes before the ceremony was about to begin, they were called out to investigate a propane leak on base. Left with no choice but to delay the ceremony, attendees took advantage of the time to meet each other and reflect upon their own memories.
Joseph and Patricia Walukiewicze, parents of Navy police officer Tom Walukiewicze, traveled from Uncasville, Conn., for the event. The Walukiewiczes recalled watching the attacks that morning on the news.
“I was making breakfast and I walked into check the weather on TV, and then the first plane hit. I was so stunned I just stood there. Then the second plane hit,” Patricia Walukiewicze said.
They came to Newport for the day to show their support for the work emergency personnel like their son do every day to keep the country safe.
Once the fire fighters returned, the men quietly straightened their uniforms and rejoined the ceremony.
“There are not words that can adequately convey what we all remember on that day ten years ago,” Lt. Nathan Drake, USN Chaplain, said during the invocation. “We simply call it 9/11. But we do remember the heroism of the New York City firemen, policemen and the emergency service personnel."
Captain J.P. Voboril, USN, told the audience that he was an executive officer on the USS Winston Churchill in the English Channel during the time of the attacks. Without a television, they relied on written messages to sort out what was happening back in the United States.
After a couple messages and some vague interactions with other ships, a German ship asked permission to pass along-side the USS Winston Churchill.
As the ship passed, Voboril explained that every German sailor stood on the rail in their dress uniform and held their personal bed sheet painted with the words, “We Support you, USA.”
“That moment right there made me realize the world will never be the same again,” Voboril said.