DAHLONEGA - Hundreds of students, faculty and staff members at the University of North Georgia (UNG) were joined by the community on Wednesday night for a candlelight ceremony marking the 12th anniversary of 9/11.
The ceremony held on UNG's Dahlonega Campus by the Corps of Cadets and the Student Government Association (SGA) included recognition of local first-responders, veterans and members of the Georgia Army National Guard.
Most of today's college students were in elementary school on Sept. 11, 2001, when 19 terrorists hijacked four airliners and crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Somerset County, Penn., killing almost 3,000 people. Students have grown up in a post-9/11 world in which global conflicts in the war on terror have had a profound impact on them and the university community.
"For our generation, growing up after the 9/11 attacks has shaped who we are today," SGA President Raj Sagoo told the crowd of hundreds gathered on the Gen. Bill "Lipp" Livsey Drill Field. "We are stronger, more patriotic and we are more appreciative of our freedoms."
UNG is one of only six senior military colleges in the country and is designated as The Military College of Georgia. Its Corps of Cadets numbers more than 800. The Dahlonega Campus is also home to the UNG Memorial Wall, which stands in honor of the university's alumni who died in service to the United States, including during the global war on terror.
"We will soon light candles to pay homage to those lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001. Let us remember them, let us remember their families and let us remember those who continue to pay the ultimate sacrifice in defending our nation," said Cadet Col. Blake Schaper, commander of UNG's Corps of Cadets. "Though we mourn the losses of Sept. 11, let the fire that will soon light your candles symbolize the burning passion of the American spirit. Let it symbolize the dedication that have to fight and defend our values and beliefs. Let the fire symbolize the undying and unwavering patriotism of the American people."
Wednesday morning began on the Dahlonega Campus with the Corps of Cadets firing the retreat cannon at the time of each plane crash. As part of Wednesday's memorial events, UNG men's and women's soccer teams paid tribute with Military Appreciation Day at their 5 and 7 p.m. home games. The Corps of Cadets also participated at the games with the Color Guard presenting the colors and The UNG Patriot Choir singing the National Anthem prior to each game.
Also, to further recognize local first responders, the UNG Serves student organization collected thank you notes from students and delivered the notes and homemade cookies to the Sheriff's Office, Fire Department, and UNG Department of Public Safety. Commuter students wrote letters to soldiers as part of the Commuter Council's