As the nation prepares to observe the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, an Avalon native is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard a ship built using steel from the World Trade Center.
On Sept. 11, 2001, Lt. Cmdr. Michael Matt was a freshman at Villanova University in the Navy ROTC.
“It’s a remembrance of a shared tragedy that we, as Americans, have all experienced,” said Matt. “It’s an acknowledgement of the sacrifices that so many have borne over the last 20 years.”
Matt joined the Navy 15 ago.
“I joined to travel and see the world,” said Matt. “After 9/11, that solidified my reason for joining the Navy and made me understand my position as a Navy sailor could help protect the country, and that was my obligation to do it.”
According to Matt, a 2000 St. John’s College High School graduate, the values required to succeed in the military are similar to those found in Avalon.
“Growing up in a military family made me understand from a young age that each of us has obligations to the country and when willingly taking on, it will allow our country to stay safe,” said Matt.
USS New York’s bow is forged from steel salvaged from the wreckage of the 9/11 World Trade Center attack. According to Navy officials, the Navy’s 9/11 namesake ships uphold the virtues of service, sacrifice and selflessness that have always been the source of America’s strength.
“It is an honor and privilege to carry on the legacy of the selfless heroes and unwilling victims of the 9/11 attacks,” said commanding officer of USS New York, Capt. Javier Gonzalez. “Our ship embodies the fighting passion that united Americans, despite an inconceivable tragedy, to defend our country’s values and continue the pursuit of freedom worldwide.”
Homeported in Norfolk, Virginia, the USS New York is longer than two football fields at 684 feet. The ship is 105 feet wide and weighs more than 24,000 tons. It has four diesel engines that can push the ship through the water in excess of 26 mph.
As a member of the U.S. Navy, Matt and other New York sailors are proud to be part of a warfighting team that embodies the spirit, strength and resilience of the American people.
“I had a number of friends in college who throughout the years were personally impacted by the 9/11 attacks in both New York and Washington, D.C.,” added Matt. “Serving aboard this ship allows me to bring a piece of them with me everyday when I come to work. The fact that steel from the WTC is embedded in the keel of this ship is a physical tangible reminder that when put to sea, the U.S. has the ability to recover from any attack and will bring that fight to the enemy.”