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Maj. Gen. Robert F. Hedelund speaks during a 9/11 memorial ceremony at the Craven County Community College Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point – Havelock campus, honoring those who lost their lives during the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Hedelund is the commanding general of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing.

Photo by Cpl. J. R. Heins

Local community gathers for 9/11 remembrance

16 Sep 2014 | Cpl. J. R. Heins

Craven County Community College hosted a 9/11 memorial at the Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point – Havelock campus in remembrance of the events that occurred Sept. 11, 2001.

Maj. Gen. Robert F. Hedelund, the commanding general of 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing and the keynote speaker for the event, started the memorial ceremony with a moment of silence.

Hedelund recalled what he was doing at the time he first learned of the attack.

“I was the squadron commander of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 16 in New River at the time,” said Hedelund. “On that day I was in the ready room with a few other pilots when my wife called me. She said ‘turn the television on right now.’
“The first idea that popped into the heads of all the Marines in that room was, ‘How can an accident like this happen?’ Then the second plane hit and everyone knew this was no accident,” said Hedelund.

“I had the opportunity to talk to a few younger Marines about what they could recall from the attack,” said Hedelund. “Most of them explained that at that time they were only in elementary school, but they have all grown up fighting this war.”

During the ceremony, faculty and staff at the college, many with ties to the Marine Corps, remembered the day that forced the U.S. into its current contingency operations. 9/11 stands with other dark days on American calendars, said Walley Calabrese.

“The way I look at 9/11 is just like Franklin Roosevelt’s words on Dec 8, 1941, ‘a date which will live in infamy.’” said Calabrese, the dean of learning and operations of the Cherry Point – Havelock campus and a retired gunnery sergeant. “Sept. 11, 2001, was this generations date of infamy.”

Calabrese was stationed in Okinawa, Japan, at the time of the attack and said he remembers the exact emotions he felt upon hearing the news. “I was furious,” said Calabrese. “I just kept thinking, ‘how could someone do that?’” More than ten years later, America is still fighting terrorism, said Calabrese. "Everyone who grows up in America will know the importance of the day. “

"(9/11) is a day that we must not, and will not forget,” said Hedelund.
Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point