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ROTC honors 9/11 victims with remembrance ceremony

Cadets in the Pittsburg State ROTC program carried out a 9/11 remembrance ceremony which took place at Carnie Smith Stadium.  

During the remembrance, the ROTC cannon was fired four times: at 8:46 a.m., when Flight 11 hit the first World Trade Center towers, at 9:03 a.m. when Flight 175 hit the second tower, at 9:37 a.m. when Flight 77 hit the Pentagon, and at 10:03 a.m. when Flight 93 crashed into a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.  

In between cannon shots, cadets took turns reading the names of the 2,977 people killed during the attacks as well 65 names of people who died from related injuries. Cadets also took turns doing push-ups.  

“It’s important to me for the fact that our country was attacked and… innocent lives were lost that day,” said Evan Garrett, junior in construction management. “A future Army officer, I honor those who risked their lives to save others.”  

Assistant professor in the department of military science and Captain Erick Leon was a senior in high school and living in New York City at the time of the attack.  

“I must admit, I barely graduated,” Leon said. “My upbringing and surroundings did not promote a path to higher education. It was the goal of existing in my environment, the high crime rate of the Bronx, NYC, that motivated me to join the military, to which I needed a (high school) diploma to do so. From there, working under and being led by college educated officers is what further encouraged me to pursue a college degree.”  

The aftermath of the events of 9/11 drove Leon to join the army.  

“Unfortunately, the Bronx was and still is poverty (stricken)… and full of crime,” Leon said. “When 9/11 occurred, I had asked friends from my neighborhood about donating blood, as the news/media reports stated a lack of blood available for the survivors of the attacks on the city. These ‘friends’ of mine out right said it was not a good idea, which in turn caused me not to donate or volunteer. It was disheartening to see the disconnect on the TV of people giving their all to provide aid to the cold and callousness I saw on the streets. This pushed me to re-evaluate what I wanted to do in my life, ultimately a life of serving others as best I can.”  

Leon promised to continue the ceremony “as long as I am present at PSU.”  

Cadet Kylie Brooks, sophomore nursing major, was only six months old at the time of the attack.  

“I think this 9/11 ceremony is important just to help my generation, especially those that weren’t alive during this time, to remember it,” Brooks said. “Even though they weren’t there, physically it’s still important to know our history and where we all came from and how we built up our nation even if it’s (from) something as tragic as the 9/11 attacks.” 

Other communities in Kansas have similar traditions. The annual Wichita Fire Department stair climb was cancelled this year due to COVID-19. However, members of the Pittsburg Fire Department felt it was important to honor the 343 first responders who lost their lives on 9/11. To do this, they did a special memorial stair climb on Saturday, Sept. 12 at Carnie Smith Stadium at PSU. Ten firefighters began the climb at about 8 a.m. and climbed 110 flights of stairs, which represent the height of the World Trade Center towers, in full gear.  

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