In Nags Head, recalling the tragedy and unity of 9/11

By on September 11, 2019

(photo by Mark Jurkowitz)

Under a near cloudless sky and a warm late summer sun, Veterans, first responders and regular citizens gathered at the Soundside Event Site in Nags Head late Wednesday afternoon to remember the unspeakable tragedy that both horrified and unified a nation 18 years earlier.

The September 11th Patriot Day Ceremony was highlighted by remarks from guest speaker Joe Morabito, a member of the Alexandria VA Fire Department who ended up being a first responder at a Pentagon building that had been gravely damaged by American Airlines Flight 77, leaving a death toll of 125.

Having started the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 by taking a nice walk with his wife and dog, Morabito recalled that when he arrived at the Pentagon, “I was in disbelief when I saw what the plane did to that building and what the building did to the plane.”

A key point of Morabito’s remarks was the recollection of how unified the country was in the face of the attack that took 2,977 lives.

“On that day, and on the days after, we were all Americans,” Morabito said. “We were one…The terrorists thought they were going to destroy us. Instead, they brought us together.”

While no one said so explicitly, some speakers seemed to reflect a sense of wistfulness about that level of post-9/11 national unity, given the sharp division and polarization in the nation today.

Those in attendance at the ceremony were welcomed by remarks from Afghanistan War Veteran Kelli Harmon, who stressed that the event was designed to honor the work of our first responders, who in just the past week, were pressed into extra and exhausting duty by the dangers of Hurricane Dorian.

As part of the event, American Legion Commander Michael Lewis read off a tribute to the people who died on 911, running through the numbers of those killed in the World Trade Center, at the Pentagon, and on the four doomed flights, before declaring emphatically that, “zero will be forgotten.”


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