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ROTC honors fallen Americans

Reserve Officers’ Training Corps cadets fire the first cannon of the 9/11 Ceremony of Remembrance as the clock strikes 8:46am. Annually, ROTC shoots off a canon at the time of every plane crash. Libby Davis

PSU ROTC held a 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony in honor of the men and women who died on the morning of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. 

The ceremony was held at the northeast corner of the Carnie Smith Stadium, near the Axe Library’s front entrance. 

“It’s about honoring the courage, not only from the military side, but the first responders… that’s really who we are honoring,” said Lieutenant Colonel Charles Costello, department chair of military science. “This is about the firefighters, police officers and medical professionals who gave their life or continue to suffer because of what they experienced that day.”

The Remembrance Ceremony consisted of cadets firing a cannon at the reported minute of every plane crash on September 11, 2001. The first cannon fire was at 8:46 a.m. with the second at 9:03 a.m. to represent the Twin Towers. The third cannon fire was at 9:37 a.m. to represent the Pentagon, and the last one was fired at 10:03 a.m. to represent flight 93.

“Services like this allows for our cadets to have a connection to the event, some of these students weren’t even born that day so they don’t personally relate to it..,” said Taylor Wiebe, professor of military science. “I was born in ‘95, so I was only 6 years old when 9/11 happened. All I remember is my parents shielding me from the TV.”

Though the attack is older than some of the participants in the ceremony, the terrorist attack’s consequences can still be felt today. 

“These cadets will go on to serve in the military, and the conflicts that we are involved in stem from 9/11.., It’s important for them to understand the reason why we are going overseas, for some of them, there have been U.S. soldiers in the Middle East their whole lives, it’s all they know,” Wiebe said.

After each cannon fire, advisors led the students in a moment of silence.

“We train leaders, we want them as lieutenants to be able to understand history and cultural differences, so if they don’t understand the history of a major event like 9/11, and how it affected not only the U.S. but everybody worldwide, we can’t expect them to do their job and be an effective leader,” Wiebe said.  

In years past, students passed by but considering September 11 fell on a Saturday this year, campus was much emptier than normal. The people that were present were the 9 ROTC cadets that were manning the cannon, a couple of their ROTC professors, and a family of 4.

“We normally call off the names and do a push up for each of the 2,977 lives that were lost that day, but we decided to do that at the game this year,” Costello said. “It will be more visual for people.”

The cadets spent the morning of the attack’s 20th anniversary learning about and honoring “courageous patriotism.”

“I was born 3 days after 9/11, so there’s not much personal connection that I feel with it,” said Konya Halle, ROTC cadet. “But listening to my parents and the cadre speak about their vivid memories from that day really impacts me. It makes me wonder how I would react. Hearing these stories gives me a drive to do my part in making sure it doesn’t happen again, and to be able to lead others if it does, that’s why I love this ROTC program.”

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