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ROTC remembers terrorist attacks of 9/11

Joseph McMahon | Sunday, September 13, 2009

The men and women of Notre Dame’s Navy and Army ROTC programs gathered in front of the Pasquerilla Center early Friday morning to commemorate the eighth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

“As we honor our flag today, we remember those whose lives were tragically cut short by evil men,” Rector of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart Fr. Peter Rocca said.

Rocca, who offered a prayer on the behalf of the victims and the service men and women currently deployed, said the ceremony was a way of remembering all those whose lives were cut short as a result of the attacks.

“In the course of our history, countless men and women – our military comrades – have given their lives to defend this flag and to help rid the world of oppression and injustice,” he said. “We remember them in this ceremony, including the almost 500 fallen and deceased alumni of Notre Dame, as well as those who died eight years ago this day.”

Naval ROTC Battalion Commander Brad Towne said the ceremony held a special importance for current ROTC members, many of whom will be deployed in combat zones after graduation.

“For most people it’s about the remembrance or reminding people, for us, as military personnel or future military personnel, it’s really looking at the people who have gone before us and sacrificed their lives,” he said. “For us, thinking about the sacrifices that we might have to make, it’s a good feeling.”

Army ROTC Battalion Commander Scott Vitter agreed, noting that the current American military experience is largely shaped by the events of September 11.

“From an ROTC perspective, it is really important because it definitely changes the nature of the program,” he said. “Entering ROTC these days, you do it with the understanding that you’ll probably see deployment overseas. That is directly traceable back to the events of September 11.”

Vitter said it is important for ROTC members to remember the history and events that shape their goals.

“From a military point of view, it’s crucial to keep an understanding of the events and the history and the background that ultimately guides the mission,” he said.

Rocca said the morning of September 11 is memorable for all Americans.

“I am sure you all remember where you were that morning of that fateful day – September 11, 2001 -when you first heard of the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City,” he said. “No one was quite sure what had happened.”

Rocca said the event was especially painful for the many Americans who personally knew someone who was killed in the attacks.

“Almost 3,000 people were killed that fateful day. It is estimated that almost 20 percent of Americans knew someone who was hurt or killed that day,” he said. “It goes without saying that all of us have been affected by this wanton act of evil.”

Addressing the ROTC members, Rocca said although their mission will be arduous, ultimately “we confident that in the end, trusting in God, the power of good will be stronger than the power of evil.”