By Julianne Field
13 years ago the country was shaken by the events of September 11th. Although a little over a decade has passed, the emotional impact is still present with thousands of Americans today. On this year’s anniversary of 9/11, in front of the Student Union building at 12 p.m., Armstrong’s R.O.T.C. department held a memorial service to commemorate all of the fallen heroes.
The service consisted of four R.O.T.C. cadets representing the crashed flights; American Airlines flights 11, 77, and United Airways flights 175 and 93. The cadets then recognized the efforts of first responders, firemen and police that were on the scene with a flag folding ceremony as the musical piece “Taps” was played.
The flag was dedicated to Savannah Fire Battalion Chief Edward Harris. September 11th survivors and surviving family members attended the memorial with heavy hearts and offered condolences to each other for those that lost their lives.
This was R.O.T.C.’s Staff Sergeant Mabry’s fourth year organizing the service. Mabry’s decision to incorporate firefighters, police and emergency responders came from his reports of September 11th. “On 9/11 we often think of soldiers fighting overseas as the heroes. But on that day the firemen, police and emergency services on the scene were heroes as well,” Mabry said. “They were at Ground Zero within minutes of the planes crashing and saved over 2,000 people. Some firefighters climbed 77 floors of stairs to reach people. Because of 9/11 soldiers deployed to fight the global war on terrorism.”
Mabry paid respect to everyone affected by the attack. He included the stories of where the flights ended up in the memorial showing the passengers and survivors as heroes rather than victims. He reflected on Flight 93 passengers’ courage to stop the hijackers from reaching their target resulting in the plane hitting an open field. “In addition, we have to think of the passengers of the crashed planes. I wanted to include everyone as a whole. It was very symbolic in that way. The ceremony was our way of giving back to everyone,” Mabry said.
Sophomore student, Cadet Sydni Booker, represented Flight 93. It was her first time involved in an R.O.T.C. service. The anniversary hits home with her because of her high school teacher. Booker recalled when her teacher’s son worked in one of the Twin Towers but overslept that morning and missed work.
“Every time 9/11 comes around I think of him and how lucky he was. He could’ve been there, it’s shocking,” Booker said.
Sophomore, Cadet Janaela Bashay, representing Flight 77, was also in her first service. After finishing the memorial, Bashay learned of a woman in the audience who lost her daughter in one of the flights. Bashay was moved by the woman’s story. Bashay and Booker were honored to be a part of the memorial, both said they would happily do another R.O.T.C. service.