Middle Tennessee State University remembered the victims of the 9/11 attacks with a ceremony early Monday, Sept. 11, that included a rendition of taps at its Veterans Memorial and the tolling of bells from the tower of its Honors College.
More than 100 people gathered at the MTSU Veterans Memorial outside the Tom H. Jackson Building for the ninth annual 9/11 Remembrance ceremony, commemorating the 22nd anniversary of a series of four coordinated terrorist suicide attacks by the extremist group al-Qaida on U.S. landmarks, which occurred Sept. 11, 2001.
“I am forever thankful for this unparalleled show of support by this university, by this community, by this workforce, by all of you here,” retired Army Lt. Gen. Keith Huber, MTSU’s senior advisor for veterans and leadership initiatives, told the audience.
The event was coordinated by the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center, the largest collegiate veterans center in Tennessee, assisting 1,000-plus student-veterans and their family members annually.
The ceremony featured cadets and cadre members from the university’s Army and Air Force cadets, reading timeline events from the attacks in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania.
MTSU Vice President Andrew Oppmann, who also serves as a civilian ambassador for the U.S. Army Reserve, was the ceremony’s featured speaker. He recognized the work of Army Reservists in the aftermath of the attack.
Oppmann said nine Army Reserve soldiers were among the nearly 3,000 killed at the World Trade Center. Other Reserve soldiers, units and emergency preparedness liaison officers were vital to the rescue mission in New York City, he said.
Puerto Rico’s 311th Quartermaster Company deployed to the Pentagon within 72 hours of the attack, “assigned with the grim task of searching through tons of debris for remains and personal effects,” he added.
Oppmann also recognized MTSU ROTC Cadet Lancy Fripp, a sophomore from Watertown, Tennessee, in Aerospace’s nationally recognized professional pilot program and U.S. Air Force veteran Renee Frost, telling the audience their background stories.
As an Army Reserve ambassador, Oppmann nominated Fripp for a Minuteman Scholarship. Fripp is a rising leader in the ROTC program. After commissioning and graduation, Fripp plans to balance Army Reserve service with a career in civilian aviation.
Frost, the spouse of an MTSU employee, was 18 and lived in the Chicago area when 9/11 occurred. The incident angered her. Weeks later, she went to an Air Force recruiting office and, after passing strength and physical requirements, enlisted as an airman in Security Force and served in Texas and North Dakota.
“Renee is among the thousands across our nation who heard a call to duty in the wake of 9/11 and were moved to volunteer for military service, at home and abroad,” Oppmann said.
Huber, who served in Afghanistan from July 2011 to July 2013, thanked Amazon Military for its support of the ceremony. In closing, Huber said he was “appreciative of the gift of this day and how uncertain each day is.”
— Randy Weiler, Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu