Story by Daniel Scroggins and Emily Neal // Contributing writers | Photos by Emily Neal / Sidelines
Students, faculty and the public paid their respects to those who lost their lives in the 9/11 terrorist attacks as Middle Tennessee State University hosted its second memorial service early Sunday to mark the 15th anniversary of the attack.
The occasion was marked by displays of quiet patriotism as the audience was respectful and somber.
At 7:46 a.m., the time that North Tower of the World Trade Center was struck by Flight 11 with 92 passengers on board, a prayer and moment of silence was led by Shanika Willis. Willis is an MTSU graduate student majoring in chemistry and business administration and president of the Blue Raider American Veterans Organization or BRAVO.
Guest speakers Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Keith M. Huber, senior adviser for veterans and leadership initiatives at the university, and MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee encouraged the audience to never forget the sacrifices made on that day.
“Never forget, remember the day,” McPhee said.
Following the university president’s remarks, Cadet Joe Bell played “Taps.”
Nashville citizens also turned out Sunday morning in remembrance of the 15th anniversary of 9/11 for a National Day of Service and Remembrance at the War Memorial Building and the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb at the William R. Snodgrass Tennessee Tower.
The National Day of Service and Remembrance ceremony was hosted as a part of Marine Week in Nashville to honor fallen marines and to celebrate their lives and service to America.
“September 11 was a day that changed our nation forever,” said Gen. Glen Walters who attended and spoke at the ceremony.
Joe and Catherine Kutsko, originally from New York but now residing in Nashville, attended the ceremony in honor of their son, daughter and son-in-law who all graduated from West Point and served overseas.
“It was just like today,” Catherine said, “bright and sunny. I was hanging laundry when Joe called. That was the day we knew our kids were going to war.”
The Kutskos were fortunate that all of their children returned home safely, but they did lose many friends and coworkers.
“Joe worked on the 110th floor of the World Trade Center. None of that department made it,” Catherine said. “I’m glad that we’re remembering today. It’s important that we never forget.”
Two wreaths were dedicated in honor of two fallen marines from Tennessee that lost their lives in the “fight against terrorism.” Senator Bob Corker, Mayor Megan Barry and the Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Veterans Services, Many-Bears Grinder, also spoke at the ceremony about the lasting impact that infamous day has had on America.
The 7th annual 9/11 Memorial Stair climb was done in remembrance of the 343 firefighters that lost their lives during the attack. The climb consisted of 343 firefighters that volunteered to climb 110 floors as their brothers and sisters in the fire service did in the collapsing Twin Towers. Each firefighter climbed with full gear as well as the photo and badge of a New York Fire Department firefighter that died 15 years ago while in the line of duty.
There were family and friends of firefighters statewide at the event as well as Nashville-area citizens that admired
the dedication of the men and women in the fire service. Micah Sullivan with the Williamson County Fire and Rescue Department said, “It shows what the true brotherhood of fire service is and how much we rely on each other. Being the 15th anniversary, it’s a good thing to do every year so we don’t forget 9/11.”
“It means a lot because of the lives that are shared of the firefighters,” said Luis Del Rio, a member of Fire Buffs Box 55, a volunteer organization that provides rehabilitative services to firefighters in Nashville. “It’s a sacrifice that every firefighter, EMS person makes while they’re on duty that often goes unnoticed until something bad happens. It’s touching to see the response the American people still have 15 years after what happened in New York.”