9/11 first responder, veterans reflect on day’s impact at Jacksonville ceremony

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT)–9/11 is a deeply emotional day for our nation.  And for those who rushed to provide aid for the victims, it’s a day they’ll never forget.

It’s especially true for one New York police officer.  Retired NYPD Officer Carl Urbina thought only of others on September 11.

“The call came over the radio and we thought it was an accident, a plane crashing into the World Trade Center,” he said. “It wasn’t until the second plane hit and we automatically knew it was a terrorist attack.”

On the 16th anniversary of the start of the war on terror, Urbina reflects on the horror of it all.

“When we got there it was such a thick cloud of smoke and total chaos,” he said.  “We were trying to save someone, save anybody, that was our first response.”

Folks across the community gathered to pay their respects at Jacksonville’s Patriot’s Day ceremony. The names of some of those lives lost were read aloud along with brief biographies of each person.

“By telling the stories of a real person, you get it,” Laurette Leagon, vice chairman of the Onslow Civic Affairs Committee, said. “You hear about what their father has to say, what their mother or children have to say about them. That’s real.”

Military members were also recognized on Monday for their service in the fight against terrorism.

After many prayers and numerous moments of reflection, those in attendance joined together to sing “God Bless America.”

In the Camp Lejeune Memorial Gardens is a 9/11 memorial. Jacksonville was one of the first cities to receive a beam from the towers because of the sacrifices made by area Marines that day. It now serves as a reminder to never forget.

“We’re still fighting the war on terrorism,” Urbina said.” We have to be constantly vigilant and as a group, a people, to support our first responders and military.”

Local veterans took time to reflect on where they were during 9/11.

Native New Yorker, Sgt. Maj. (ret.) Paul Siverson was working in Jacksonville at the USO.

“It’s ironic that back in 1969 before I joined the Marine Corps, I worked up on Wall Street,” he said. “During lunchtime, I’d walk down to where the towers were being built and I watched them blast the foundation to it.”

Siverson says he regrets that he was already retired by 9/11 and would have re-enlisted if possible. A sentiment echoed by Sgt. Maj. (ret.) Grant Beck.

“We must always remember,” Beck said. “If we start to forget it becomes history. And too many times people forget what took place that got us to where we are today.”


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