ROTC highlights importance of military service at 9/11 memorial

College students marked the three-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks Friday morning at 8:30 a.m., gathering in front of Paul Loser Hall to hear tributes to those who lost their lives and to observe a moment of silence at the time the first plane slammed into the World Trade Center.

“On this day, we reflect back to where we were and how we felt on Sept. 11, 2001,” Lisa Bowers, junior nursing major and a member of ROTC, said during her speech. Bowers read short memoirs from ROTC students describing their initial responses to first hearing of the attacks.

“With all that was happening, people asked me if I would still join the military. Of course, I said. I suddenly felt tall and strong again, as my career choice was given new meaning. My courage was renewed,” Bowers read. “One year later, on Sept. 11, 2002, I signed a contract with the Army ROTC program here at TCNJ.”

Bowers also read a poem in honor of those who died.

Amy Swaiteki-McCabe, senior biology major and ROTC company commander was here at the College on Sept. 11. “On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, my roommate and I were getting ready for class,” she said. “All morning, my eyes were glued to the television. By mid-afternoon, Travers Four floor members pulled together into one cohesive unit forming a support group for each other. We found something in common, and helped each other through this tragic time.”

“When the first plane had hit the World Trade Center, I was in a high school technology class and my teacher immediately turned all the TVs on,” Bill Yang, sophomore law and justice major and ROTC member, recalled. “A moment later we caught glimpse of the second plane crash and silence overtook the classroom. The whole experience seemed very surreal.”

College President R. Barbara Gitenstein started her speech by comparing the beautiful weather Friday to that on Sept. 11, 2001. “Today is a beautiful eerily similar day,” she said. Gitenstein described the attacks as a stunning stop in time. “At 8:46 a.m. there would be a moment of silence, and whoever is speaking will stop and the bells will toll,” Gitenstein said.

The moment of silence forced Pedro Khoury, executive president of the Student Government Association, to stop in the middle of his speech.

His speech touched on the sacrifices of the firemen and rescue workers and the unified state of the nation after the attack.

Congressman Rush Holt (D) said, “This time should be used to gain perspective on the world.” He also added that people should examine what it is to be an American and build perspective in reflection and memory.

“We are the land of the free because of the brave,” Brian Mulvihill, executive vice president of SGA, said, to begin his speech. He also recalled the speech given by President George Bush days after the attack.

College student Kiera Casper sang the National Anthem after the speeches.

Lastly, Father Joseph Hlubik from Catholic Campus Ministries recited a reading from the Prophet Isiah. “This is not a war against religion, this is a war against violence,” Hlubik said.

Many students attended the remembrance. Some knew people who died that day, while others came out of respect.

“Even though I don’t know anyone who died on 9/11, I still feel that it is important to remember that day because of the profound impact that it has had on our country,” Eric Pasternack, junior political science major, said.

Kaitlin Wooster junior nursing major and Erin Mitschke sophomore elementary education major, although they didn’t know anyone who died that day, came out of respect.