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People enter a chapel at the Naval Station Guantanamo Bay in Cuba on September 11. (Ellie Kaufman/Granthshala)

Twenty years after the September 11 terrorist attacks, a group of military members, family members of 9/11 victims and observers gathered in a chapel in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, at the same time that the first plane struck the North Tower of World Trade. Center to honor those who lost the lives of about 3,000 people that day.

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The small ceremony dedicated to the lives lost, specifically the lives of two victims, whose family members went to Guantanamo to spend the anniversary, described the events of September 11 as that morning, recounting them in smaller pieces, A bell interrupted only by a toll.

Elizabeth Berry, sister of Captain William “Billy” Francis Burke, Jr., gave a speech to those gathered in the chapel, describing the sacrifices her brother made that day as the leader of his fire department, Engine 21, in Manhattan.


Burke escorted his firefighters to Ground Zero after the attack on the towers, she said. He was on the 27th floor of the North Tower, trying to evacuate people from the building when the South Tower collapsed.

Berry said that after the South Tower collapsed, a May Day call came out on the radio. Burke told his firefighters to evacuate the building and move to a safe location, but he was left behind with two people, one of whom was in a wheelchair and could not be evacuated.

“Captain Burke kept promising to meet the brig on the radio. He said keep going, I’ll come right after you, but he didn’t,” Berry told the crowd in the chapel. “I think he knew that when he stayed behind, he would probably die.”

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Because he told two companies of men to leave, they all survived. Burke stayed with the two men until the tower collapsed. His remains were never found, Berry said.

Berry is one of five family members who traveled to Guantanamo Bay this week Pre-trial hearing in military commission case Five people are accused of planning and carrying out the 9/11 attacks. The case has been going on since 2012, when five people lodged in Guantanamo Bay prison were arrested.

Berry and her husband, Paul, still hope that one day the case will be brought to trial and there will be some level of justice for them and other family members who were victims of the attacks.

“I think there is a very different definition of justice for each of us. I will speak for myself, only I, justice is telling the world in a trial what these terrorists did to kill so many people, Said Paul Berry.

Lost honor: The Naval Base conducted a 9.11 km commemorative run in the morning, followed by a flag hoisting ceremony from the Naval Base Headquarters with the Commanding Officer of the Base and a ceremony at the Chapel of the Base.


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