A day of remembrance: Patriot Day Ceremony honors first responders
Published 5:09 pm Thursday, September 12, 2019
September 11, 2001 is a day we as a country will never forget. It was a day of grief, heartache and fear, but it showed the true colors of our nation. We did not just stand together; we stood united.
The Outer Banks VFW Post 10950, the American Legion, the Town of Nags Head and Dare County hosted a ceremony to honor those who fought for our country on that fateful day eighteen years ago. The Patriot Day Ceremony was led by Kelli Harmon, Commander, Veterans of Foreign Wars, at the Outer Banks Event Site in Nags Head on Sept. 11.
As Harmon addressed the crowd to begin the ceremony, a 20 ft. long American flag flew above the stage. The first responders of Dare County joined the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance and an instrumental rendition of the “Star-Spangled Banner.”
Joe Morabito, a retired Alexandria firefighter, spoke on his experience at the Pentagon after the third plane struck: “We found a haunting site of an almost perfectly round hole where the plane had punched a hole in the granite walls.”
Morabito and his fellow firefighters from neighboring jurisdictions spent that night at the fire station together. “We were all gathered there, sharing a roof and sharing a purpose to protect our people and our communities,” he said.
The following day, Morabito was dispatched back to the Pentagon to remove slate from the roof and put out lingering fires. Armed services approached and asked the firefighters to assist in draping the American flag over the Pentagon. “As we draped our flag over the side of the broken Pentagon, everyone on the ground saluted and the sound of ‘God Bless America’ filled the air – I know I’ve never been prouder in my life to be an American as I was in that moment,” recalled Morabito.
After his speech, Morabito, Harmon, Michael Lewis, Commander, American Legion joined to ring the bell for the fallen victims of 9/11. There were 2,977 people who lost their lives that day.
Chief Talmadge Jones of Roanoke Island Fire Department commented on what his crew experienced during Hurricane Dorian. “We had far more calls then we run in a month. We get about 40 calls a day and on the day of the hurricane, we got about 200,” he said.
The Patriot Day Ceremony has been held for about five years now and the plan is to have the event every year if possible. “What day of the year do we stop and pay attention to what our first responders do every day? It’s important,” said Harmon.