USMA honors those who died on 9/11 with ceremony
Story by Brandon OConnor on 09/18/2019
At 8:26 a.m. on Sept. 11, a West Point firefighter rang the bell on the front of the fire truck.
The clanging of the bell marked the moment when 18 years earlier American Airline Flight 11 had crashed into the upper floors of the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
Honoring that moment has become an annual part of the U.S. Military Academy’s 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony, which was held on Trophy Point on the morning of the anniversary.
This year’s ceremony featured retired Sgt. 1st Class Tarnish Pride, who currently works in West Point’s visual information department.
On 9/11, Pride was working in the Pentagon where he was assigned to United States Army Visual Information Center’s photo service division.
His morning that day started like any other work day with a trip to the main concourse to get coffee. There he met a friend named Darryl who had become his constant coffee companion.
After getting their drink, Pride planned to go to Darryl’s office with him.
“After receiving our drink, one of his co-workers asked if we had seen the news about the planes crashing into the World Trade Center,” Pride said. “We told him no. As we watched people suddenly leaving the coffee shop in a hurry his coworker told us to come to his office because it was closer so we could watch the news of the tragic events that were unfolding.”
At 9:03 a.m., a second plane crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center. Then at 9:37 a.m. as Pride, Darryl and their co-worker watched the news the building shook. American Airlines Flight 77 had crashed into the Pentagon.
“Just as a Soldier and first responders were trained to do, I ran toward the noise,” Pride said. “You see, the plane hit my friend Darryl’s office area and damaged a majority of the area where he worked on the west side of the Pentagon. If it weren’t for his co-worker offering us the opportunity to watch the news in his office, we would have been part of that casualty count as well.”
The occupant of the office next to Darryl’s, Lt. Gen. Timothy Maude, the U.S. Army’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, was one of 125 civilian and military personnel killed at the Pentagon and one of 2,977 people killed in the attacks.
“I witnessed firsthand the damage that was caused by the plane crash and the lives that were lost that day,” Pride said. “The carnage that I’ve seen has forever been etched in my memory. I still remember the faces of the Soldiers and civilians that I saw in passing laying there lifeless on the Pentagon floor. I couldn’t help but think about how I met some of these individuals either at an event or ceremony before this day happened.”
Following Pride’s speech about his experience on that day, the church bells from West Point’s Cadet Chapel were played marking the time the plane crashed into the South Tower. Four cannons were then fired to honor the four planes that crashed during the attacks.
The ceremony also included a performance by the Cadet Glee Club and the playing of Amazing Grace by a bagpiper from the Cadet Pipes and Drums group.
“It is important as a nation of freedom that we continue to take time out of our busy schedules like today to honor and remember historical events such as this and the men and women who dedicate their lives or gave the ultimate sacrifice for freedoms that you and I enjoy today,” Pride said.