On Tuesday, Sept. 11, a 24-hour flag vigil will be held in the Abraham Smoot Building courtyard to commemorate those who died in the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
The vigil will begin at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning with a flag-raising ceremony, followed by a rose laying ceremony and rifle salute from 8:50 to 9 a.m., as stated in a memorandum to Dean Gary Cornia of the Marriott School.
There will be two service members standing guard, one from the Army and one from the Air Force, until 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday. They will change guards every 20 minutes.
“The flag will be guarded for 24 hours signifying the vigilance of the men and women who have never quit, and never left the nation unguarded,” Cadet Lt. Col. Lewis Swanson, cadet wing inspector general said in an email. “It is important to note that the flag will never be taken down during the vigil, signifying that though the United States of America was hurt, we were not defeated and that we would rise up stronger than before.”
Four planes crashed on Sept. 11. Two crashed into the World Trade Centers, one into the Pentagon and the last in a field in Pennsylvania. According to the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, about 3,000 people died in the attacks.
Despite its impact on history, Swanson feels that the memory of 9/11 is fading in the eyes of the country.
“September 11th is not just a page in our history books,” Swanson said. “Like Pearl Harbor, September 11th is a defining event in our nation’s history. It is a grim reminder that the world we live in is not free of hatred. But it is also a reminder that we as a nation are strong. This vigil is a reminder of both of those things.”
Cadet Christopher Riley, public affairs officer for the Army ROTC, said that in previous years, most people have not been aware of the vigil and have walked past the flag without understanding or remembering the significance of the day.
“It is a deeply sobering experience to honor those whose lives were ended by hate,” Riley said. “As public support for the war in Afghanistan wanes, I feel that it is important to remember why we are there in the first place, and remembering 9/11 is one of the best ways to do that.”
The focal point of the vigil will consist of a small table with a folded flag and wreath, Cadet Capt. Andrew Hodges, wing public affairs officer for the Air Force ROTC said. The table will be located immediately in front of flag at half staff, and in front of the table will be an area for people to lay flowers.
The special guest will also lay four flowers at the same location, each one representing one of the four planes that crashed. A Seven Volley Salute will follow.
“I am in charge of making sure there is no chaos when we do the Seven Volley Salute,” Hodges said. “We want people to enjoy this ceremony.”
The memorandum to Dean Cornia said three trained cadets will fire seven blank rounds each, using rifles made to only shoot blanks.
Hodges encourages students and faculty to spend time at the vigil by the ASB to reflect and pay respects to those who lost their lives, but to also maintain a reverent and solemn environment. There will also be respectful bios and pictures along the courtyard of those involved in 9/11.