RICHMOND – Approximately 200 employees attended Defense Logistics Agency Installation Support at Richmond’s wreath-laying memorial ceremony at the flagpole in front of building 34 on the Defense Supply Center Richmond Sept. 11 in remembrance of the 13th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
DLA Installation Support at Richmond Police Officer Sgt. Ernest Clayborn opened the ceremony recalling where he was during the 9/11 attacks.
“Does anyone remember where you were when the actions of terrorists invaded the United States? I can recall every moment,” Clayborn said.
“As a young police officer just getting off work from the night shift, I took a morning exercise run, and had returned to my apartment when I received a phone call from police headquarters that all officers living in the city were placed on ‘high alert,’” he said.
Clayborn recounted being assigned to a post at city hall in the city of Morrow, Georgia, when he was with the Morrow Police Department, and said it was one of the hardest days of his law enforcement career. “I really wanted to be in New York, to help my fallen brothers and sisters of the Thin Blue and Red Line,” he said.
The Thin Blue and Red Line is a symbol used by law enforcement to commemorate fallen officers.
DLA Installation Support at Richmond Site Director Regina Grant also recalled where she was on 9/11 during the ceremony.
“I happened to be in the Pentagon in an executive staff officer meeting,” Grant said. She said she was in a conference room when it happened and remembered being confused and not knowing what was going on.
Grant, a retired Army colonel, worked at the Pentagon for the Department of the Army’s G1 in the Human Resources Directorate as an executive officer on Sept. 11, 2001.
“There was chaos,” she said. “I smelled smoke and heard people yelling and crying. It was so dark and black. You could smell the smoke and jet fuel. In order to get out, I had to crawl.”
She said there were 12 people in that conference room and two of them did not make it, and she had suffered “survivor’s guilt.”
“I just couldn’t figure out why I survived.” Grant said there was no rhyme or reason as to how people died; they were either overcome with jet fuel or smoke or died from the impact or the fire.
“I don’t know how I got out,” she continued. “I got out by the grace of God. That day I started believing in angels. That was a horrific memory that I will never forget.”
Grant then quoted President George W. Bush’s Address to the Nation, Oct. 7, 2001, when he said, “We will not waver; we will not tire; we will not falter; and we will not fail. Peace and freedom will prevail.”
She also recited the Army’s Soldier Creed, which she credited with keeping her motivated all these years.
Clayborn closed the ceremony by thanking everyone for attending and saying how especially near and dear 9/11 ceremonies were to him being a federal police officer, and because his father was a retired firefighter.