Photo by Caleb Revill / Reporter
Heroes were honored and the perished weren’t forgotten at MTSU’s third 9/11 Observance Ceremony on Monday morning.
The memorial was hosted outside of the Tom H. Jackson Building by MTSU’s Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center, an on-campus institution that helps student veterans to study and receive help and advice from fellow veterans.
MTSU faculty, students and representatives participating in MTSU’s Army ROTC program attended the observance.
Tammy Bass, a Gold Star mother and MTSU alumni, spoke about her oldest son, David, who joined the Marine Corps in 2003.
“He was one of the ones that was impacted on 9/11 by knowing that he wanted to make a difference,” Bass said. “He really wished he were 18, but he was 16. So, while he was 17, he did the early enlistment program on his path to becoming a marine.”
The Gold Star mothers are an organization of mothers who have lost a son or daughter in the service of their country. The organization was established in 1928 after the impact World War 1 had on families across the country. The organization was chartered by Congress in 1984 and provides service to veteran and patriotic events. Every year, the organization commits thousands of volunteer hours to improve the lives of veterans and their families. Programs that the organization creates include the recently launched, national “Walk-a-Thon” campaign, which raises awareness for military suicide.
Bass reflected on the time of the 9/11 attacks.
“Very quickly, we realized that our nation was at war,” Bass said. “Quickly, before the end of the day, the country was coming together. To see that and to know that’s what Americans are about was encouraging. What I hope we have learned is not to forget, and that’s why today’s been so encouraging to me.”
David died on April 2, 2006 after being deployed from Camp Pendleton to Iraq. He was 20 years old.
MTSU President Sidney McPhee attended the event. He had just returned from his father’s funeral when the attacks occurred.
“The day before, I was attending my father’s funeral,” McPhee said. “We were actually scheduled to come back on 9/11, but my wife and I moved up our schedule, not knowing that this act would occur. To have this event coincide the anniversary of the passing of my father becomes very emotional.”
McPhee spoke of the importance of hosting the 9/11 memorial.
“Our university, with its deep support of our military, for their families and for this nation, felt it necessary and important to honor through a memorial service, ” McPhee said. “The terrorists thought that, by such a cowardly act, they would break the strength and the confidence of our country, and they haven’t. They’ve just made us much stronger.”
Retired Lt. Gen. Keith Huber spoke about his duties during the aftermath of 9/11. Huber now works as the senior advisor for Veterans and Leadership Initiatives at MTSU.
“At the time of the attack on 9/11, I was preparing a force of 5,000 people to go to Kosovo,” Huber said. “We had to focus on our task at hand, and I knew that we were still going to deploy to war in Kosovo. I wanted to make sure that, for the men and women that were in my task force, if they had family or relatives in New York City or in the Pentagon, that I did everything I could to facilitate a communication between their families.”
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