As we prepare to commemorate the 21st anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon along with the crash of Flight 93, it’s a moment of great sadness and reflection. The attacks and their aftermath have shaped what it means to be American for an entire generation, with most Americans citing this event as one of the top 10 historic events in their lives—as recently as 2016.
Those who serve our country and protect its borders (both physical and cyber) continue their unending watch with unending bravery and respect. On the Yard, we commemorate this anniversary somberly each year, recognizing the nearly 3,000 lives that were lost on that day as well as the lives that have been lost throughout the years in service to our country, both in the ensuing war and throughout our history. We are connected to them all, and we honor and thank them deeply.
As they’ve done in years past, the Midshipmen Action Group (MAG), a popular service group run by midshipmen since 1992, has planned a number of important events to mark the weekend. If you’re on the Yard, we highly recommend visiting these spots.
Flags on Stribling
On Friday, September 9th, at 12:45 p.m., midshipmen will place 2,977 miniature American flags along Stribling Walk to represent the lives that were lost on September 11th, 2001. Fourteen of these Naval Academy American flags are larger in size to remember the alumni that we lost that day. These flags will be concentrated in the middle of Stribling Walk, surrounding the moving Mexican American Monument, a towering and prominent monument that was erected on the grounds of a fledgling U.S. Naval Academy to honor those who had helped make this institution possible through their bravery. It is the longest standing monument on the Yard. These flags will serve as a vivid reminder, standing along Stribling for the entire weekend. The sheer volume of flags creates a stunning visual of the volume of 2,977. If you get a chance to see this display, please reflect on its meaning and memory.
USNA Flag Run: A Run to Remember
Another moving tribute will take place on Sunday morning, September 11th, when the entire Brigade of Midshipmen participates in the “Run to Remember.” They will carry an American flag and run it around the yard continuously from 8:46 a.m., the time when the first plane crashed into the Twin Towers, to approximately 5:20 p.m. The event will feature small groups of midshipmen that will each run in timed increments, as a relay of sorts. Last year’s 20th anniversary run lasted a full 24 hours, but this one will not last quite that long. This show of strong solidarity in the face of tremendous loss is one more way the midshipmen bind together as a group during their time together at the Naval Academy. The long duration of the run reminds us of the confusion and horror that stretched out that entire day, leading into the days and months of unknowns after that—and the lasting effects of 9/11 even to this day.
Moment of Silence and Remarks in Tamanend Court
At the end of the USNA Flag Run, there will be an evening reflection on Tamanend Court, right near the opening to Bancroft Hall. The Superintendent, Commandant and Command Chaplain will host a tribute event at approximately 5:20 p.m. that will include guest speaker New York City Firefighter Lieutenant. John Breen. Lieutenant Breen served as a first responder in New York City on the day of Sept. 11, 2001 and is the uncle of 2nd Lieutenant Liam Rock, Class of 2020. We are honored to have him join us and share his story.
We are also honored to have the midshipmen showing their respect and carrying forth the remembrance of that day in other ways. Throughout the weekend, each of the thirty companies in the Brigade will complete a stair run in various locations throughout the Yard. Each climb consists of an upward ascent of 110 flights of stairs representing the 110 flights it took to get to the top of each of the World Trade Center towers. When first built, these were the tallest and largest buildings in the world. Through these runs we acknowledge the pain of the people (and their loved ones) who endured this attack and honor their memory as well as the lives of the survivors.
Twenty-one years later, recognizing the events of September 11th is still as difficult as it has been since the beginning. We use this time to reflect on the women and men who perished on that day, help those with lasting scars, and express gratitude for the American spirit and resolve that was strengthened as our nation came together.
As the NABSD we are forever proud of and thankful for the midshipmen who train to be the defenders of our nation. We give 100% to them because they give 100% for their country. When you come to the Yard, take a tour, dine here, shop here, or simply visit, you’re giving back too. Every bit you spend on the Yard goes back to the Brigade. In honor of 9/11, we thank you for your support and express our deep gratitude for the protection of our freedoms on this historic anniversary.