Three years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the U.S. Navy announced it would commission three ships to honor victims and first responders. One of the ships would be the USS Arlington, to honor those lost in the attack on the Pentagon, as well as those who served in its aftermath.
Fast-forward to today, and the USS Arlington is at sea preparing for its second overseas deployment since its official commissioning at Naval Station Norfolk in 2013. This sailing holds special meaning, coming on the eve of the 17th anniversary of 9/11.
Under the command of Captain Todd Marzano, the ship’s crew along with members of Arlington County’s Military and Veterans Affairs Committee (MVAC) are working to strengthen the connection between the Arlington community and its namesake ship.
Maintaining a Connection with the Arlington Community
Since taking command of the ship less than a year ago, Captain Marzano has established regular contact with the MVAC, which was set up in 2016 to recognize and support active duty military personnel, veterans, and their families in Arlington.
Recently, a delegation of MVAC members traveled to Norfolk to see the USS Arlington and visit with its crew. During the visit, the group discussed opportunities for greater interaction with Arlingtonians, both virtual and in-person.
One idea was for a public school in Arlington to “adopt” the ship, engage in regular communications with the crew and plan educational activities for students. Oakridge Elementary School has been chosen to adopt the ship and work is underway to plan the first activities.
Captain Marzano and the MVAC hope to create more such opportunities, including ways for Arlingtonians to visit the ship and for the ship’s crew to visit Arlington. In that spirit, a small team of the ship’s crewmembers not on the current deployment will travel to Arlington to run in this year’s Police, Fire & Sheriff 9/11 Memorial 5K on Sept. 8. To build more virtual interaction, the ship maintains an active Facebook page, with frequent posting of photos of the ship and its crew in action.
Honoring Victims and First Responders
In all, three U.S. Navy ships honor the victims and first responders of the 9/11 attacks. The other two are the USS New York and USS Somerset, to remember the attacks on the World Trade Center and the downing of United Airlines Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pa.
One of many ways the USS Arlington memorializes those lost at the Pentagon is an onboard 9/11 Tribute Room. Displays describe the events in Arlington on 9/11 and memorialize the 184 victims and thousands of emergency, fire and rescue personnel of Arlington County and neighboring localities who provided critical emergency assistance. A piece of recovered metal from the Pentagon is included in the display.
The Arlington County Board provided a portion of the funding for the room, with the rest coming from fundraising efforts by the ship’s Commissioning Committee.
The ship’s official crest also pays respect to Arlington and the Pentagon attack. One side of a pentagon-shaped shield is a different color to mark the location of the impact of American Airlines Flight 77. The number of twists on the gold rope encircling the crest reflects the number of lives lost.
Arlington to Remember 9/11 in Upcoming Ceremony
A wreath-laying ceremony outside the Ellen M. Bozman Government Center at Courthouse Plaza will take place at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 11, to remember the attack on the Pentagon.
Representatives of the Arlington fire and police departments and sheriff’s office will be in attendance, as will representatives of the U.S. military, including personnel from nearby Ft. Myer and the Military District of Washington. A moment of silence will take place at 9:37, the moment the plane crashed into the Pentagon.