The crowd sat in reverence through the City of Valdosta’s Tenth Anniversary of 9-11 Remembrance Ceremony at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday.
No one made a sound as the VSU Mass Choir sang patriotic music. The crowd listened intently to the welcome remarks from Col. Scott Kindsvater, 93rd Air Ground Operations Wing Commander at Moody Air Force Base. The entire ceremony was in silence until the audience saluted the flag and recited the Pledge of Allegiance.
The speaker, 23rd Maintenance Group Commander at Moody Air Force Base, Col. Neil Robinson, was in the Pentagon when it was hit.
“It’s important that we remember the day so that we don’t forget,” Robinson said. “It’s as simple as that and we should keep in the forefront of our minds to pay proper tribute to the souls who have gone before us and who have lost their lives in 9/11. I think it’s important that it doesn’t become another day.”
His story garnered applause from nearly everyone in earshot at several points during his speech.
Then, the onlookers turned to see the Valdosta Fire Department Pipe and Drum Corps’ rendition of “Amazing Grace” which flowed seamlessly into the bugle performance of “Taps” by Don McArthur of Valdosta, retired from the U.S. Air Force, followed by the 76th Fighter Squadron A-10 Fly Over.
Katie Aufenthie, freshman music major and member of the Mass Choir, remembers Sept. 11, 2001 vividly.
“I remember not really believing it, because we watched the first plane hit the building and once the second plane hit I guess the whole country realized that it wasn’t an accident and that it was definitely something evil and deliberate,” she said.
“I just remember never knowing what nationalism meant before that; I was in fifth grade. And then after that, all the media coverage and all the magazines and everything made me feel like I knew what nationalism was and we were united.”
She feels as though we should never forget the events now known as “9-11,” as these are the things that unite us as a nation.
“I think when it comes to this subject we’re all united in the same feelings,” she said. “I think we’ve all been through it and we’re fortified by it and we want to honor it the best way possible and, most importantly, not forget it. So I think it’s good that we take this break from life and try to get that feeling back of being united as a country.”
Robinson offered similar thoughts.
“I think that we’ve become, in a number of ways, stronger as a country,” he said. “We were fighting a common enemy.”
Aufenthie says that the ceremony did teach her some things about herself.
“I need to have some kind of regular reminder of who I am as an American, not just who I am in my other worlds of life, but who I am as an American and what my country means to me,” she realized. “I want to get that same feeling of nationalism I had in fifth grade.”
VSU also had a candlelight vigil for the victims of Sept. 11 on campus.
To watch a video of the 9/11 memorial service held at VSU Click Here
Hundreds of student and faculty supporters packed themselves onto the sidewalk in front of West Hall to honor the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The ceremony consisted of a few words of condolence from head VSU faculty followed by a candlelight vigil which illuminated the entire face of West Hall, bringing an overwhelming cloud of emotion over the entire crowd.
Once the mass of candles were emitting their glow, a moment of silence brought about an absolutely deafening hush to the greater area in the front of VSU’s campus.
Proceeding the moment of silence, the crowd slowly and quietly dispersed, many still solemn and teary-eyed from the moving ceremony.
“I am very proud of the turnout and the student’s attention to the ceremony,” Dr. Louis Levy, VSU president, said. “The students responded with sincere reverence for the lost Americans, making me very proud to be a part of the VSU administration.”