Remembering Patriot Day with 24-hour vigil

Today the Air Force ROTC will honor those who lost their lives on 11 September 2001 with a twenty-four hour Patriot Day Vigil. Beginning at seven o’clock this morning, a group of cadets will stand guard over a folded flag and floral display in front of the Abraham O. Smoot Administration Building.

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A rose will be placed in front of the flag display and followed by a seven-volley rifle salute for each of the four planes hijacked on 11 September. The volleys will occur at the exact time each aircraft was downed.

“The rifle salute is a historical way to reflect on those who lost their lives,” says Major Mark Slik. “It’s very haunting to hear the crack of the weapon and to feel that power as you remember noble sacrifices.”

The twenty-four hour guard provides students with an opportunity to pay respects in a fashion similar to the constant guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider in Arlington National Cemetery.

“The vigil gets me every time,”Slik says. “Since life is so busy, it is a great opportunity to take that moment to pause and really feel the spirit. It makes me appreciate those who lost their lives.”

There will be two additional presentations to commemorate the day:  one at noon in the Varsity Theater from Thad Forester, author and brother of Purple Heart recipient Mark Forester, and one at LaVell Edwards Stadium to kick off the Houston vs. BYU football game. The public are invited to show support for our troops by attending these presentations as well as the vigil and are encouraged to bring their own flowers for the display.