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Washington Honors Families, Service Members On 9/11 Anniversary

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Ron Rivera was stepping out of a meeting with the rest of the Philadelphia Eagles coaching staff when he heard the news.

One of the Eagles' executive assistants, like millions more around the world, had all her attention focused on the television as the World Trade Center burned. As Rivera was told what had happened, the shock started to settle in. The Eagles were preparing for a road game against the Seattle Seahawks, but now all that seemed so insignificant.

"You did step back and think about other things that were more important at the time," Rivera said.

Two decades after the terrorist attack, the Washington Football Team and the NFL still have not forgotten the events of that day, and as a solidarity act of remembrance, Washington has taken the week to honor the nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives.

Things got started on Tuesday, when Rivera and team president Jason Wright joined the Secretary of Defense Protocol to lay a wreath at the Pentagon and pay their respects to the 184 people who died in the attack on the government building.

"It is a very respectful place and...it is something that you should [do] because you really do reflect," Rivera said, "and it was a very powerful thing to see that yesterday."

The following day, Washington surprised three families representing Tuesday's Children with a virtual meet and greet. All three families, who lost loved ones either in or as a result of the terrorist attacks, heard Rivera speak about his connection to the military and Washington, D.C. In addition to receiving an invitation to attend Washington's season opener against the Los Angeles Chargers, signed memorabilia was sent to each family.

On Saturday, the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Washington and the rest of the NFL partnered with 9/11 Day and the 9/11 Memorial and Museum to participate in a day of service. With help from more than 1,000 volunteers, Washington packed 300,000 meals for local people in need.

Sunday's game will open with a stadium-wide moment of silence in addition to acknowledging 13 seats draped with a flag to honor the 13 service members killed in Kabul two weeks ago.

After a special 20th anniversary video that will be played across the league, Lt. Gen. Marc H. Sasseville will be recognized as an honorary captain. Sasseville was one of the four pilots launched over the District and was tasked with finding and destroying United Airlines Flight 93 in a fighter jet without missiles. Sasseville vowed to ram the airline out of the sky via suicide mission. He'd find out hours later the airline had crashed in Pennsylvania.

CSM Aarion Franklin, deployed to the Pentagon as Military Police Officer assisting with rescue, protection and safety, will be presented with a game ball by the team and FedEx. CSM Patrick Metzger, deployed to the Pentagon as Military Police Officer, and CMSgt. David B. Callaghan, Sr., who was with Sasseville before launching into his mission, will be honored in the USAA Salute to Service moment.

Joseph Nerney, who was deployed twice to Afghanistan's Helmand Province as the Team Lead of a radio reconnaissance team, will be named as the Veteran of the Game, presented by Black Rifle Coffee. Nerney was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma in 2019 from burn pit exposure and recently went into remission.

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