“Turn around. You will want to see this,” Samuel Erwin said.
“Oh, wow,” responded James Friedlander, the brim of his FDNY cap tipping upward as he cast his eyes up.
They saw a large steel plate from the World Trade Center reading “Never Forget New York” above them on one of the most trafficked passageways aboard the USS New York. Erwin and Friedlander were among roughly 20 New York firefighters and police officers who on Sunday boarded the Norfolk-based amphibious warship that set sail Monday for its namesake city to participate in a weeklong Veterans Day celebration.
The USS New York is a tribute to the 2,996 lives lost during the 9/11 attacks. “Never forget,” say placards, murals and small stickers decorating the walls throughout the ship. The ship was made with 7.5 tons of steel salvaged from the ruins of the World Trade Center. The strength of the crew, the motto reads, was forged through sacrifice.
Having traded one uniform for another, many of the first responders embarking with the crew don't need any help remembering 9/11, nor do they need a lesson on sacrifice.
“The firefighting community and the military community are tightly connected — woven together,” William “Bill” Hayes said.
Hayes was among the hundreds of firefighters who responded to the 9/11 attacks in 2001. He was also a firefighter in February 1993 when a van rigged with a bomb exploded in a parking garage beneath the World Trade Center. Six people…