9/11 anniversary

Stadium Keeps Alive Memory of Navy Capt. Who Saved Lives at the Pentagon on 9/11

Sandwich High School's stadium is named in honor of Capt. Gerald DeConto -- it was his brother's idea, in order to give back to students

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When Dave DeConto looks out onto the stadium at Sandwich High School that bears his brother's name, he sees the future and the past.

"So I usually sit here and sort of just take it in and remember what it was like before," DeConto said.

Two decades ago, life changed.

"The emotions and the feelings are right there at the surface all the time, even though it's been 20 years," he said.

Dave's brother, Navy Capt. Gerald DeConto, was on watch inside the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.

"As soon as the first tower was hit, he sent everybody [who] was looking at those TVs away," Dave said.

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His brother did that, DeConto said, because his he feared something worse would happen at the U.S. military headquarters: "When the plane hit the Pentagon, those people are, for the most part, the people that survived because he sent them away from the area of danger."

Dave said he's not surprised his brother would do that.

"That's very, very much Jerry," he added.

His selfless legacy lives on at his alma matter, Sandwich High. Its stadium is named in honor of Capt. DeConto. It was Dave's idea, in order to give back to students.

"One of the things about this stadium is that it gives us that ability to keep that memory alive and teach them history," said Dave, who's the high school's soccer coach.

For years, a Massachusetts nonprofit has been teaching high school students about 9/11, whose 20th anniversary is this weekend, in partnership with a man who lost a brother in the attacks.

It's why he always asks two questions at the start of soccer tryouts each season.

"When I first welcome in the girls soccer team for tryouts, I say, 'Welcome to DeConto Stadium. Do you know why this stadium is here? Do you know about 9/11?'" Dave said.

The answers to those questions are part of the reason Dave wanted to build this stadium and memorial.

The memorial features a flag pole with phrases engraved around it, like, "Freedom is not free." There's also a piece of steel from the south tower of the World Trade Center. All of it is a reminder of that awful day, the sacrifices made and keeping Captain Gerald DeConto's memory alive.

"I think he'd be very proud," Dave said.

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