By Sonja Barisic
NORFOLK, Va. – A monument to the 17 people killed in the terrorist bombing of the USS Cole was dedicated Friday, the first anniversary of the attack.
“Today, we honor 17 American heroes,” Rear Adm. John Foley III, commander of the Atlantic Fleet’s surface forces, said at the dedication ceremony that included a reading of the names of the victims.
“The terrorist attacks will never be forgotten, nor will they deter us,” Foley said.
A 10-foot-tall monolith encircled by 17 granite slabs was dedicated at the Norfolk Naval Station overlooking Willoughby Bay – where ships leaving and returning from sea pass by.
The monument also pays tribute to the 37 sailors injured in the attack and the crew members who saved the Norfolk-based destroyer from sinking in Yemen’s Aden harbor after a skiff pulled alongside the ship and detonated explosives.
U.S. officials believe Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network is behind both the bombing of the Cole and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Monument designer John Blackburn, a landscape architect with the Navy’s worldwide engineering corps, took input from some of the Cole’s crew in developing his design.
A 10-foot pillar of mahogany granite is the centerpiece of Blackburn’s design. At its top, the granite slopes 45 degrees, a symbolic salute to passing ships. The names of those who died are inscribed on two bronze plaques.
Hardy Japanese black pines were planted: one each of the 17 sailors killed and one for each of the 11 children they left behind.
Donations paid for the $143,000 cost of the memorial.
The Cole is being repaired at Northrop Grumman Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss., and is expected to return to Norfolk next spring.
On the Net:
Ship and memorial information: http://www.spear.navy.mil/ships/ddg67/
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