Gulfport Seabees toll the bell for 9/11 victims

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - By Elizabeth Vowell – email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Two sharp bell tolls cut through the humid silence of Saturday morning on the grounds of the Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport.

"We gather this day to remember those who were killed in the terrorists attacks on our country nine years ago today," said a Naval officer to a crowd of over 400. "Each of them unique and irreplaceable, each of them precious."

As the military members of all ages snapped to attention during the parade of flags and national anthem, it is hard to miss the youth that is shown among them. Many of these soldiers were in junior high, or even elementary school, when they watched the two towers fall. Now, they stand at attention, nine years later, remembering why they serve their country.

The memorial service began shortly after 9:00, about the same time the second plane hit the towers in 2001. After the anthem and short benediction, the NCBC Commanding officer, Capt. Lou Cariello, shared his thoughts with the crowd.

"I think everyone of us remembers exactly where we were, exactly what we were doing and exactly how we felt," said Cariello.

NCBC Fire Chief Mark Henson remembers where he was vividly. The emergency responder offered his perspectives to the crowd by sharing the Firefighter's prayer.

"There were 411 emergency responders that went into the towers that day that did not come out. They were there doing their jobs as they do everyday," said Henson. "It's just a tragedy I hope nobody ever forgets."

"I look back on what that event did to us as a country. I think that it did a lot more to unite us and remind us what this country is all about, than it did to attack us and hurt us," said Cariello.

The ceremony ended with the presentation of a wreath, draped in red, white and blue.

"It did hurt us. It hurt us deeply, but I think it brought us together. It serves every year, every day if you will as a reminder of what we stand for as a country," said Cariello.

After the ceremony, smiles replaced somber looks as the crowd went on for a day of service in honor of September 11.

"It's another reminder of what this country is all about. We're founded on freedom, liberty, justice, all that's good in life. We represent what's good in this world," said Cariello. "We're not perfect, we have our things to work on, but our country is all about goodness."

Copyright 2010 WLOX. All rights reserved.