Standing in front of Auburn University's Samford Hall on a warm, clear Friday morning, Lt. Col. Nate Conkey addressed the group before him with a message of remembrance and one of thanks.
The outdoor ceremony highlighted six new cadets willing to serve their nation and remembering the lives lost 19 years ago on a similarly clear Sept. 11 morning.
“This is a big moment,” said Conkey in addressing those at the day’s official swearing-in ceremony for the newest cadets of the U.S. Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, or ROTC, at Auburn University. “Thank you for being willing to take this step. It’s a benchmark to greatness.”
Conkey spoke about the significance of the day, recalling how on Sept. 11, 2001, he listened by radio to the day’s horrifying, unfolding events and wanted to do his part to defend his country.
“We absolutely have to remember,” he said, adding that “in a moment on that day, lives were changed.”
The new cadets made that commitment official as they recited the Oath of Enlistment. They agreed to join the four-year leadership training program in exchange for scholarships that cover tuition expenses at Auburn.
Upon graduation, they will receive commissions as second lieutenants in the United States Army for four years or more of service.
The Navy and Marine Corps ROTC also held a remembrance ceremony Friday morning on Nichols Lawn, honoring the lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001, and showing appreciation for the first-responders of the Auburn police and fire divisions.
Preston Sparks is a communications employee for Auburn University.
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