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MTSU 9/11 Remembrance speaker: Don’t forget ...

MTSU 9/11 Remembrance speaker: Don’t forget ‘priceless freedoms we enjoy’ [+VIDEO]

Calling it a marathon that’s grown into an ultramarathon, Greg Mays shared how the United States remains in a war to defeat terrorism.

Mays, director of Homeland Security at the Tennessee Department of Safety, helped Middle Tennessee State University commemorate the 21st anniversary of the four coordinated terrorist attacks on U.S. soil by the extremist group al-Qaida in 2001, as MTSU hosted the eighth annual 9/11 Remembrance on campus.

Greg Mays, director of Homeland Security at the Tennessee Department of Safety, speaks to an MTSU audience attending the eighth annual 9/11 Remembrance at MTSU in the Tom H. Jackson Building’s Cantrell Hall Sunday, Sept. 11. It marked the 21st anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the U.S. by the extremist group al-Qaida. At the time, Mays was part of then-Vice President Dick Cheney’s Secret Service detail. (MTSU photo by Cat Curtis Murphy)
9/11 Remembrance, Daniels Center, Doug Kreulen, Rodney Atkins, Daniels Veterans Center, Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center, Special Events, Campus Community, MTSU, Middle Tennessee State University

The event was held Sunday, Sept. 11, in the Tom H. Jackson Building’s Cantrell Hall. It was hosted by the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center, which assists more than 1,000 student veterans and family members seeking degrees, pursuing careers or needing help with VA benefits.

A retired U.S. Secret Service agent and a U.S. Navy veteran, Mays was the guest speaker for the ceremony. He shared memories as part of then-Vice President Dick Cheney’s Secret Service detail in the aftermath.

“This nation will stand for freedom. We must, to honor the lives of those who gave everything — both on 9/11 and in the wars and conflicts around the globe since then,” Mays said. “We awakened as a nation that day, and I hope and pray we do not lose sight of the priceless freedoms we enjoy.”

Mays, who shared that he did not know what terrorism meant as an 11-year-old but that his 11-year-old daughter does understand, quoted former President Ronald Reagan, who said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on for them to do the same.”

Concluding, Mays said “to those whose losses were deeply personal and are still mourning — and I know horrible losses like that can ripple across generations — may you find comfort in your faith and in the love and gratitude of a nation.” 

MTSU ROTC cadets Tyson Ramsey, left, and Uriella Umutoni and U.S. Army MSgt. James Bujnowski, senior military instructor in the Military Science Department, salute during the eighth annual 9/11 Remembrance at MTSU Sunday, Sept. 11, in the Tom H. Jackson Building's Cantrell Hall. (MTSU photo by Cat Curtis Murphy)
MTSU ROTC cadets Tyson Ramsey, left, and Urielle Umutoni and U.S. Army MSgt. James Bujnowski, senior military instructor in the Military Science Department, salute during the eighth annual 9/11 Remembrance at MTSU Sunday, Sept. 11, in the Tom H. Jackson Building’s Cantrell Hall. (MTSU photo by Cat Curtis Murphy)

MTSU ROTC senior cadets Urielle UmutoniChris Boykin and Tyson Ramsey read a timeline of 9/11 events, then personally shared how that day in history influenced their decision to pursue military careers. Umutoni and Ramsey were only 1 year old at the time; Boykin was 14.

In a high school freshman history class learning about Mesopotamia, Boykin said a “different teacher burst through the door and pleaded to turn on the TV. When she did, the image on the screen is one I will never forget. Flight 11 had just struck the north tower. Like my classmates, I sat there wondering what was going on, trying to grasp what was happening.

“I come from a military family. However, until this horrific event, I had never truly felt the meaning of patriotism. After hearing President Bush’s ‘bullhorn’ speech at Ground Zero, where he proclaimed, ‘The people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.’ A fire was ignited in me that still rages on. I felt a true calling to enlist in the Army and continue faithfully serving the nation that I love to this day as we destroy terrorism and evil.”

Retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Keith M. Huber, the MTSU senior adviser for veterans and leadership initiatives, welcomes the audience attending the eighh annual 9/11 Remembrance Sunday, Sept. 11, in the Tom H. Jackson Building's Cantrell Hall. “the attack on 9/11 changed our world forever," he said. (MTSU photo by Cat Curtis Murphy)
Retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Keith M. Huber, the MTSU senior adviser for veterans and leadership initiatives, welcomes the audience attending the eighh annual 9/11 Remembrance Sunday, Sept. 11, in the Tom H. Jackson Building’s Cantrell Hall. “the attack on 9/11 changed our world forever,” he said. (MTSU photo by Cat Curtis Murphy)

Keith M. Huber, senior adviser for veterans and leadership initiatives and a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general, provided the welcome and prayer. University President Sidney A. McPhee was joined by faculty, staff, students, alumni and other guests in attending the early-morning event.

“We remembered all who died in the attacks of 9/11 and who served and sacrificed in the wake of that day,” McPhee tweeted on social media.

The crowd attending the eighth annual 9/11 Remembrance at MTSU listens as guest speaker Greg Mays shares a personal experience from the events that happened Sept. 11, 2001, and in the days that followed. Among those attending the early-morning ceremony were U.S. Army Lt. Col. Arlin Wilsher, left, the professor of military science in the MTSU ROTC program, his wife, Lori, and their son, Bradley. (MTSU photo by Cat Curtis Murphy)
The crowd attending the eighth annual 9/11 Remembrance at MTSU listens as guest speaker Greg Mays shares a personal experience from the events that happened Sept. 11, 2001, and in the days that followed. Among those attending the early-morning ceremony were U.S. Army Lt. Col. Arlin Wilsher, left, the professor of military science in the MTSU ROTC program, his wife, Lori, and their son, Bradley. (MTSU photo by Cat Curtis Murphy)

Huber told the audience “the attack on 9/11 changed our world forever. People died doing what they did in service to our nation.” In closing, he urged them “to do some self-reflection” for what happened that day.

MTSU School of Music professor Stephen Smith sang the national anthem and veteran Robert Aanerud performed taps. 

A special field of flags adorned the grassy area near the MTSU Veterans Memorial outside the Tom Jackson Building in remembrance of the nearly 3,000 victims that day.

—Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)

A special field of flags adorns the grassy area near the MTSU Veterans Memorial outside the Tom H. Jackson Building. The Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center held the eighth annual 9/11 Remembrance to commemorate the 21st anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the U.S. by the extremist group Al-Qaeda. (MTSU photo by Cat Curtis Murphy)
A special field of flags adorns the grassy area near the MTSU Veterans Memorial outside the Tom H. Jackson Building. The Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center held the eighth annual 9/11 Remembrance to commemorate the 21st anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the U.S. by the extremist group Al-Qaeda. (MTSU photo by Cat Curtis Murphy)


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