NEWPORT NEWS, Va. -- September 11, 2001 is a day many will never forget. On the 20th anniversary, residents, first responders, and elected officials came together at the Newport News - Williamsburg International Airport to remember and commemorate those who died on that day.
"When the first tower fell, I remember saying, 'That can't happen,’” Mayor McKinley Price said when he stood at the podium, recounting what he remembers from September 11, 2001. “Buildings that huge are not supposed to fall."
"I also remember the days that followed September 11 and how we came together as a country,” Rob Coleman, vice-chair of the Peninsula Airport Commission, said when he took to the podium.
They were two of several speakers at the commemoration event. The event was held at the airport’s atrium just before the security checkpoint and the gates.
Seats were laid out with American flags on each seat. There was a flag guard and bagpipe band performing hymns including “Amazing Grace.”
For Michael Giardino, however, he experienced the attacks of September 11 firsthand.
"For me it was a normal workday, working at my desk on a brief,” Giardino said.
Giardino is the executive director of the Newport News - Williamsburg International Airport. He worked at the Pentagon as an operations analyst with the Navy.
"It sounded and felt like thunder,” Giardino recalled on that day. “And that was obviously the airplane hitting the Pentagon, so a lot of commotion."
His office, he said, was in a different part of the Pentagon. Right before September 11, however, his office was right near the impact zone. His office moved because of renovations.
"Almost that entire wedge,” Giardino explained, “I'll say to the left of the impact zone had been vacated thankfully because there would have been far more casualties."
While September 11 may be an annual reminder for many, Giardino said it’s a constant reminder for him.
"That was just the method the terrorists chose, which was a commercial aircraft,” Giardino said. “They can choose many, different, ways to try to do their business. So I'm reminded of it daily."
It's a day he and everyone else here will continue to remember and commemorate.