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Sept. 11 memorial service held

Justin Tardiff | Friday, September 12, 2003

Members of Navy, Army and Air Force ROTC gathered Thursday morning outside Pasquerilla Center to reflect on the Sept. 11 attacks and to honor those who died with a military memorial service.

This year’s service was spearheaded by the Navy ROTC and included a few words from a Marine colonel, a benediction given by chaplain Fr. Peter Rocca, a moment of silence and the traditional playing of “Taps.”

As the second anniversary of the terrorist attacks approached, the ROTC brass addressed concerns that the historical importance of Sept. 11 might fade over time. “One of the reasons [for the ceremony] is to try to keep the memory alive,” said Marine Maj. Mark Lyon.

Capt. James Shelton, commander of the Navy ROTC battalion, agreed and said “We’re remembering the event that touched off a war.”

Shelton recalled explaining to his son the magnitude of the situation and telling him he thought it would be unlike any war the country has seen before.

While Shelton emphasized the importance of remembering the attacks, he offered hope that the world will eventually close that dark chapter of history.

“Fifty years from now, if we forget, maybe it’s a good thing if it means we won,” he said.

Several thought Col. Regan’s speech was inspriring because of the way he linked the past with the future to explain what the ROTC cadets may once be called to do.

“He urged us to respect their sacrifice and reminded us why we joined the military in the first place,” said midshipman Anne Shreiner, a freshman in Breen-Phillips Hall.

Several ROTC students reflected on their initial reactions to the attacks.

“On campus, we were all initially shocked, but like most people around the world, we banded together,” said Justin Gallagher, a Stanford Hall junior and Navy midshipman. “Our dorm went to the hospital to donate blood that went straight to New York.”

Midshipman Capt. Bryan McCarthy, who was at John Carroll University at the time, said that emotion and confusion were everywhere. “Lots of people cried that day…other people didn’t know what do,” he said.

A monument in memory of former Notre Dame student John Henry Shillington was also dedicated during the memorial service. Shillington served as a sailor on the battleship USS Maine and died in 1898 when the ship exploded in Havana harbor, setting off the Spanish-American War. A number of his peers commissioned the monument, which includes steel recovered from the destroyed vessel. The monument was previously installed near the Joyce Center. It now sits prominently near the main entrance to Pasquerilla Center.

Matt Bramanti contributed to this report.