(photo caption: Congressman Steny Hoyer (center) stands with Bruce DarConte (L) and Ed Kaminski (R), co-founders of NSCP.)

On Sept.16, 2013, military and civilian personnel at the Washington Navy Yard were targeted in a senseless act of violence that took the lives of 12 innocent people, injured many others, and forever cast a dark cloud over the Navy Yard community. On the one-year anniversary of this tragedy, the Near Southeast Community Partners (NSCP) honored those who lost their lives, the victims’ families, the survivors, and the first responders who heroically performed their duties in a public ceremony of remembrance in Canal Park.

In attendance were a variety of dignitaries including U.S. House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD-05), U.S. Navy Vice Admiral William Hilarides, Mayor Vincent Gray, members of the DC Council including Tommy Wells (Ward 6), David Grosso (At-Large) and Mary Cheh (Ward 3), and Ward 6 candidate Charles Allen. Additional community leaders present were representatives of the Capitol Riverfront BID, the Washington Nationals, Barrack’s Row Main Street, Living Classrooms, and Anacostia Riverkeeper.

Congressman Hoyer poignantly imparted personal insights on each victim, leaving the audience with a deeper appreciation of their lives. The common thread was that they all believed that serving their country was the highest honor possible.

Mayor Gray spoke about the tragedy, which has forever impacted our city, the Navy Yard, and the Near Southeast community, and urged stricter gun laws to help prevent repeat events.

Vice Admiral Hilarides stated, “Although a year has passed, the emotion, the remembrance of those folks is always close to the surface,” and shared that, upon departing the event, he was going to have dinner with the 12 people he spent hours with during the lockdown, all of whom plan to gather every year on Sept.16 to remember.

Throughout the ceremony, the Takoma Musical Ensemble performed musical selections, creating an ambiance fitting for this tribute.

Many of the Navy Yard personnel still suffer from post-traumatic stress. Building 197, the site of the shooting, has undergone a complete renovation and employees are scheduled to move back into the building in February 2015.

NSCP is proud to have produced this event as a tribute to the strength of our community. We are grateful to all of the volunteers who made the ceremony possible and we will continue to find ways to unite all in the community.

We will never forget.

By: Bruce DarConte

Co-Founder/Vice Chair, Near Southeast Community Partners

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