In remembrance of those affected by the events of Sept. 11, 2001, hundreds of students, faculty, staff and community members gathered on the University of North Georgia's (UNG) Dahlonega Campus on Friday for a ceremony marking the 14th anniversary of 9/11.
On Sept. 11, 2001, 19 terrorists hijacked four airliners and crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, killing almost 3,000 people.
UNG's Student Government Association (SGA) and Corps of Cadets held the ceremony at the Memorial Wall, which stands in honor of university alumni who died in military service to the United States, including during the global war on terror. The ceremony also recognized emergency services personnel and members of the armed forces. Michaela Climer, SGA president on UNG's Dahlonega Campus, welcomed attendees and introduced UNG's Patriot Choir, which performed The Star-Spangled Banner.
"I am pleased to see so many here today; 9/11 is a very important day for our nation," said UNG President Bonita C. Jacobs. "So often today we look at all the differences between us, but when we look back at 9/11, we realize that we were one. We need to focus now on being one and all that we have in common."
Retired Maj. Richard Neikirk, assistant commandant of UNG's Corps of Cadets, was the keynote speaker for the event. He recalled walking on a UNG campus sidewalk alongside retired Col. Tom Palmer, commandant of cadets, and getting a phone call from his wife, who told him a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.
"Colonel Palmer and I looked at each other, as we both knew something was very wrong," Neikirk said. "We immediately went to the closest television we could find, where the women's basketball team was also gathered, and watched as the second plane struck the World Trade Center."
Neikirk recounted the exact events and the times they occurred that morning, and told listeners what happened on campus as news of the attack continued to grow in scope. He then paid tribute to all servicemen and servicewomen who responded to the attack, and read aloud the names of the seven UNG alumni who were killed in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that ensued after 9/11.
"If I leave you with one message today, it's this: please remember and pay tribute to all the men and women who served and who continue to serve today," Neikirk said.
UNG is one of only six senior military colleges in the country and is designated as The Military College of Georgia.