The student cadet-led prayer, moment of silence and 9/11 memorial speech, the guest speakers’ remarks, playing of taps, and three students’ remembrances of where they were on Sept. 11, 2001, were moving tributes as MTSU held its third 9/11 Observance.
MTSU’s community paused Monday (Sept. 11) to commemorate the 16th anniversary of that unforgettable day in the history of our country when a coordinated series of four terrorist suicide attacks by the Islamic group al-Qaida on U.S. landmarks took place.
The observance was held cool, overcast day at the MTSU Military Memorial site outside the Tom H. Jackson Building. Students, staff, alumni and others attended the solemn service to recall the thousands of innocent victims who died or were injured that day.
To watch video from the special event, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxzONUB78YQ.
“It was very moving and very fitting of the men and women who have chosen to serve our country because of the events of 9/11,” Many-Bears Grinder, Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs commissioner, said of the ceremony.
University President Sidney A. McPhee, Gold Star mother Tammy Bass of Nashville and Keith M. Huber, senior adviser for veterans and leadership initiatives at MTSU and retired U.S. Army lieutenant general, were speakers.
An MTSU alumnus with bachelor’s and master’s degrees, Tammy Bass’s oldest son, David Bass, joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 2003. He was killed in action in 2006 at age 20.
“I very quickly realized we were at war and it was going to impact my family,” Tammy Bass said of her thoughts on Sept. 11, 2001, realizing her son’s teenage desire to want to join the military.
The light or beacon for her through the years is “people coming together, praying, going to church, reaching out to neighbors to become a closer community and men and women lining up at recruiting offices to be a part of defending our country.”
Bass drew a standing ovation after her speech. The planned rest of the day for her included helping the USO Nashville, for which she has worked the past four years, and FiftyFoward, an organization supporting those 50 and over, in collecting donations at three Kroger stores for the Nashville and Fort Campbell USOs.
McPhee told the audience “the freedoms we enjoy are freedoms that are not free. They are paid and continue to be paid by the service and sacrifice of those who wear military uniforms. Sadly for many, it is too easy to forget we are at war with those who want to destroy that which we hold dear.”
The president added this is “why the university is so committed to those” many servicemen and women who have served our country. MTSU’s Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center on the first floor of the Keathley University Center serves a combined 900-plus student veterans and their family members.
After praising military science ROTC cadet Antonio Hiles for remembering victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Jose in his prayer, an emotional McPhee said it is “personal to me because I have parents and family members in both the Bahamas and Florida.”
Just before Huber’s remarks concluded the observance, MTSU cadets Christopher Hilton, Sydney Moskovitz and Amber Cetinel “shared where we were 9/11 and how it impacted our lives,” Moskovitz said. It led them and many more to join the military just as David Bass wanted to do while at Overton High School.
Huber thanked Grinder; Jennifer Vedral-Baron, health system director for the Department of Veterans Affairs Tennessee Valley Healthcare System; Suzanne Jené, deputy health system director for the VA’s Tennessee Valley Healthcare System; and others for attending.
Huber “started another tradition” with the unveiling of a Gold Star Family brick for Tammy Bass. It has been placed at the memorial site.
“Thank you for your courage and your work,” Huber said to her. He later reflected on his time in the military during and after the Sept. 11 attacks and “the courage of those who move into areas of danger and death” while serving their country.