Photo and story by Mitchell Casteel / Contributing Writer
MTSU held its fifth annual 9/11 remembrance on Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. at the Miller Education Center. This year’s guest speakers were the senior advisor for veterans’ initiatives and retired Lt. Gen. Keith M. Huber, Murfreesboro Mayor and MTSU alumnus Shane McFarland, executive director with Tennessee Higher Education Commission and U.S veteran Mike Krause, and Veterans Affairs health system director, and retired U.S Navy Capt. Jennifer Vedral-Baron.
The opening ceremony consisted of Huber welcoming everybody to their seats, as well as explaining the absence of MTSU Pres. McPhee, who was in the Bahamas providing relief for those affected by Hurricane Dorian. Shortly after, country singer Rachel Lipsky sang the national anthem and three MTSU ROTC cadets detailed the timeline of events that occurred on 9/11.
The first guest speaker was Mayor Shane McFarland. McFarland went into great detail of what it takes to become a leader, such as “making decisions no one else wants to make or doing things no one else wants to do.”
“We should cherish our American pride every day,” McFarland said.
Huber continued McFarland’s philosophy of being a leader, adding “People will follow you under mutual respect, that you have to bloody earn every day.”
The second guest speaker of the event was Krause. Krause stated in his speech that “he felt lucky to go fight the force that attacked America.” Krause quotes Isaiah 6:8 from the Bible to illustrate this sentiment.
“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’” Krause said.
The third speaker of the event was Verdal-Baron. Verdal-Baron spoke of her story of where she was on 9/11, after being taken underground as the reports of the attack came, her 12-year-old daughter was home alone for 12 hours. Verdal-Baron stated that 9/11 “was the beginning of a nightmare.” Verdal-Baron concluded by asking people “to stop the division in America today.”
To finish the event, Huber stated, “don’t complain about the lack of civility, do something about it.”
To conclude the event Huber introduced country music singer Rodney Atkins. Atkins traveled to various military bases performing in the aftermath of 9/11. Atkins spoke of his story of remembering “bringing his song into the greatest country on Earth.”
Atkins announced that he and other songwriters plan on holding a concert on September 11, 2020 at the MTSU Murphy Center to raise money and awareness to support first responders’ families. Atkins said more information for that event will be released on Veterans Day of this year.
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