YOKOSUKA, Japan (Sept. 9, 2011) Sailors stand in ranks during a 9/11 remembrance ceremony aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Stephanie Smith)

YOKOSUKA, Japan - Sailors aboard the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) gathered for a ceremony Sept. 9 to mark the tenth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The event, organized by the George Washington chief petty officer selectees, consisted of several speakers explaining the importance of remembering the sacrifice of the 2,977 killed during the attacks and the global ramifications that arose when the rest of the world strengthened their alliance with the United States as a result of the incidents of that day.

“The act of terrorism and cowardice [perpetrated] on 9/11 changed everything for us,” said Capt. David A. Lausman, George Washington’s commanding officer. “That one act has changed our perceptions, our procedures and our lives.”

On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists affiliated with al-Qaeda hijacked four passenger jets crashing two into the World Trade Center towers in New York City, another into the Pentagon and a fourth into a field in Shanksville, PA. Of the nearly 3,000 killed, 372 were from nations other than the United States.

“After that brief moment in history, all of the countries in the world were aligned together because of this attack,” said Lausman. “We refocused the alliances that our country has held throughout the world; as part of the forward-deployed naval force, day in and day out we work with all our coalition partners to ensure peace and stability throughout the world.”

USS George Washington played a pivotal role in the nation’s defense following the attack, tasked with providing air support over New York City. Ten years later, the now Japan based aircraft carrier honored those killed on Sept. 11 with speeches, patriotic music and the laying of an American flag next to a piece of the World Trade Center on permanentl display in the ship’s hangar bay.

“9/11 is meaningful to me because of the heroes that I have had the privilege over the last ten years to know who have willingly given their last full measure of devotion by sacrificing their lives to protect our nation from those enemies,” said Lt. Benjamin Howard, one of George Washington’s chaplains. “Each of these people represents to me what 9/11 is all about. It is the sacrifice and dedication of great Americans willing to risk their lives on a daily basis to keep an attack like that from happening again.”

Singed into law less than two months after the attack, Sept. 11 is now designated as Patriot Day.

“This is Patriot Day, the day of infamy that we all lived, when we were attacked and we started to protect our freedoms,” said Lausman. “Today our mission is clear and today is a day to remember.”

“It started with all those who rushed in to save others at the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, as well as stopping an attack in a Pennsylvania field,” said Howard. “It is continued for the last ten years with all the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines who have willingly served in wartime to carry out justice on our enemies and it continues today with each one of us who continue every day to serve, to be prepared to defend our country so that another 9/11 will never happen.”

George Washington’s mission is to ensure security and stability in the western Pacific and to work with regional partners to respond to any crisis across the operational spectrum.