NEWPORT NEWS, Virginia – September 11, 2001 is a day many will never forget. The 20e anniversary, residents, first responders and elected officials gathered at Newport News – Williamsburg International Airport to remember and commemorate those who died that day.
“When the first tower fell, I remember saying, ‘This can’t happen,'” Mayor McKinley Price said as he stood on the podium, recounting what he remembers from September 11, 2001. “Such huge buildings are not supposed to fall.”
“I also remember the days after 9/11 and how we came together as a country,” said Rob Coleman, vice-chairman of the Peninsula Airport Commission, as he stepped onto the podium. .
They were two of the many speakers at the commemoration event. The event took place in the atrium of the airport just before the security check and the boarding gates.
The seats were laid out with American flags on each seat. There was a flag guard and a bagpipe group performing hymns including “Amazing Grace”.
For Michael Giardino, however, he experienced the 9/11 attacks firsthand.
“For me, it was a normal work day, working at my desk on a brief,” Giardino said.
Giardino is the Executive Director of Newport News – Williamsburg International Airport. He worked at the Pentagon as an operations analyst with the Navy.
“It sounded and sounded like thunder,” Giardino recalls that day. “And it was obviously the plane that hit the Pentagon, so a lot of commotion.”
His office, he said, was in another part of the Pentagon. Just before September 11, however, his office was right next to the impact area. His office has moved due to renovations.
“Almost all of this corner,” explained Giardino, “I will say that the left of the impact zone had been released luckily because there would have been a lot more casualties.”
While September 11 may be an annual reminder for many, Giardino said it was a constant reminder for him.
“It was just the method the terrorists chose, which was a commercial plane,” Giardino said. “They can choose a lot of different ways to try to do their business. So that reminds me of that daily.”
It is a day that he and everyone else here will continue to remember and commemorate.