HONOLULU - Commander, Navy Region Hawaii Rear Adm. Rick Williams, along with the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam honor guard, participated in the Honolulu 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony at Tamarind Park at Bishop Square, Honolulu, Wednesday, Sept. 11.
The ceremony also featured speeches from Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.
The ceremony was designed to not only honor those who were lost that fateful day in 2001, but to also thank Hawaii’s first responders – the Honolulu Police Department, Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services.
“What could I possibly say that either has not been said before or be a pale reflection of what that meaning can have for us in terms of the power of remembrance?” said Governor Abercrombie. “We find ourselves, I think, experiencing what can only be a minor miracle, but rather than despair, rather than give in, rather than feel all is hopeless, we see life as it is. A miracle.”
Following Abercrombie’s remarks, messages from Hawaii U.S. senators, Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz, and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard were shared with the crowd. Mayor Kirk Caldwell then took to the podium for his remarks and to receive a flag from Navy Region Hawaii sailors.
“Why do we come together on 9/11, 12 years now, for me, it’s about renewing faith around our first responders,” said Caldwell. “The rest of us run away from danger, their job description it’s running to danger. It’s renewing faith in these first responders, its renewing faith in the men and women who serve in our armed forces, who after 9/11 signed up in droves … to fight on the front lines against terrorism … who put their lives ahead of ours.”
It was two of those service members who then presented the mayor with a flag in honor of Honolulu’s first responders.
“Presenting the flag to Mayor Caldwell meant everything to me,” said U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Andre Bogus. “When Sept. 11 happened I was a senior in high school, I remember sitting in class watching it on television. It actually is the main reason that I joined the Navy. It gave me a sense of pride and wanting to defend my country. It’s a tremendous honor to come out here and be a part of this ceremony.”
The other petty officer second class who presented the flag to Mayor Caldwell, Reynaldo Castro, was also a senior in high school Sept. 11, 2001, and watched the attacks unfold live on television. The honor of presenting the flag was important for him as well.
“I get a sense of pride doing this,” said Castro, “especially presenting the flag to the mayor. It was an honor, especially after all the words and thanks he gave in his speech.”
To conclude the ceremony, Lt. Rick Tiff, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam chaplain, provided the benediction and taps was performed by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Kevin Creasy and Petty Officer 3rd Class Ann Franeck, members of the U.S. Pacific Fleet band.