Color Guards prepare for ceremony002001

Navy Color Guard prepares for remembrance ceremony

The community, government officials, business leaders, and sponsors paid homage to those who died at the Navy Yard compound Sept. 16, 2013 in Southeast D.C.’s Canal Park. “You shared what it means to be a community and we thank you,” Vice Adm. William Hilarides, commander of Naval Sea Systems Command. “Today is a day of remembrance.” After he read from a list of victims, he said, “Gatherings like this keep their memories alive.”

The event was held approximately one year after Aaron Alexis killed 12 people and injured three.

“This is a tragic thing to happen; you want to remember like 9/11. This should happen year after year,” Detroit, Mich. native Seaman Jason Davis, a color guard at the ceremony, said.

Speaker on stage at Navy Yard Commemoration.

U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) named those the fifth district residents killed and said, “We gather in remembrance today of 12 lives taken from our communities, and from our country on Sept. 16, 2013 at 8:20 a.m. – 12 years and five days since 9/11.”

“We remember them as we also recall the heroism of the first responders who answered the call that day to end the bloodsh ed, secure the Navy Yard, and help the wounded receive care. They have our thanks and our admiration,” he continued.

The Near Southeast Community Partners hosted the event. Edward Kiminski, chairman of the group said, “Give thanks to those who shared their life with others. We should never forget what happened here.”

Pictured is Mayor Vincent Gray, setting up for an interview at the commemoration.

District Mayor Vincent Gray addressed the group, sharing his condolences and his position on gun control.  “Our country is drowning in a sea of guns, sadly, it remains true today,” Gray said.

The licensed gun Alexis used was purchased at a Lorton, Va. gun shop.

“Senseless gun violence like this is an all-too fact of life here in the District of Columbia and in the nation’s big cities. But it’s a fact of life that we need to stop accepting,” Gray said. “Why is it that these tragic occurrences never seem to move us any closer to ensuring that guns don’t get in the hands of criminals or people who are mentally unstable?”

“I refuse to be silent . . .  the time for passion is now, ladies and gentleman,” Gray said passionately.

But the already tough gun laws in D.C. will “probably have to be relaxed to some extent.” Gray said. “Those laws are tough laws, and the laws of others are now under attack by Second Amendment advocates who believe in putting the rights of gun owners before community safety,” Gray said. “Guns are not the answer, ladies and gentlemen. Guns would not have saved the victims of the Navy Yard. The time for action is now!”

D.C. Council members Phil Mendelson and Tommy Wells also attended the service. Families of the victims and more than 2,000 Navy Yard employees attended an earlier service.