KINGS POINT, NEW YORK, September 11, 2013 – Today the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) hosted a brief ceremony to remember and honor first responders and victims of the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001.
During the ceremony, the Regimental Public Affairs Officer, Midshipman Anthony Franza, read the Presidential Proclamation establishing Sept. 11, 2013 as Patriot Day, National Day of Service and Remembrance. Then, Superintendent Rear Admiral James A. Helis, PhD addressed the faculty, staff and Regiment of Midshipmen recalling the tremendous response by over 150 midshipmen and midshipmen EMTS, who, joined by Academy faculty staff, mobilized to assist in the rescue and recovery efforts. Over the course of nine days, USMMA assets moved in excess of 1,500 firefighters, EMT’s, police officers, and other rescue personnel; and moved several tons of food, water, rescue supplies and materiel from locations in Brooklyn and New Jersey to the landing area at North Cove. Helis said, “In the 12 years of war since 9/11, Kings Pointers have served the nation in every theater of conflict, as U.S. Merchant Marine officers moving equipment and supplies for the military and as active duty officers in the Armed Forces.”
Admiral Helis and Midshipman Benjamin Hladick, Class of 2016, then unveiled a 9-11 Memorial that was designed and built by Hladick. The memorial, which incorporates a piece of steel girder from the World Trade Center, was presented to USMMA by the Class of 2012 as a commemoration of the services rendered by the Academy on September 11, 2001. "This memorial will serve as a tribute to the service and sacrifice by our midshipmen, faculty, staff and graduates who responded on that horrible day in our nation’s history," said Helis. Following the unveiling there was a moment of silence, a twenty-one gun salute and a trumpeter played taps. As part of the Plebe Class spirit mission, Plebes wrote every victim’s name on Barney Square and Powell Oval and honored them by keeping constant vigil throughout the day.
The two-foot, 200 lb. piece of steel that is encased in the memorial was obtained through the devoted efforts of the Class of 2012. After the attacks, steel beams from the World Trade Center were distributed throughout New York State and the country for families of victims, schools, fire houses, government buildings and private citizens. By 2012, only about three steel pieces of the World Trade Center buildings remained, after a lengthy process the piece was finally designated for USMMA. “The Class of 2012 is proud to have brought this revered artifact to the US Merchant Marine Academy to commemorate the heroes of September 11th, especially those at the Academy and the New York and New Jersey Merchant Mariners who, in peace and war, stand at the ready,” said James Patrick O'Connor, 2012 Class President.
Once a site is selected, the memorial piece will be permanently displayed on the Academy grounds.