15 years ago, four airplanes were hijacked and used to carry out suicide attacks against targets in the United States. Almost 3,000 people were killed during the attacks, including more than 400 police officers and firefighters.

Most of the current students at Norwich were in Kindergarten, or not yet in school when this happened. Many of us may not actually remember that day, but the majority of us were affected- arguably more than students on other college campuses due to the strong military presence in our lives. Almost every single student will say that they had one or several loved ones deployed due to the 9/11 attacks. We also know several students personally that knew first-responders and civilians who fell victim to the attacks that day, including some that gave their lives for others.

Here at Norwich, we have a very special way of remembering the 9/11 victims and the sacrifices made on that day. Every September 10, since 2001, Cadets put down an American flag for every life lost on that day, surrounding the flag flying at half mast.

Starting at midnight on 9/11, and running for 24 hours, we have what are known as Vigil Tours. Vigil Tours consist of a senior in the Corps Of Cadets marching across the parade ground in front of the memorial in place for the victims. The marching is done at an incredibly slow pace, with the march taking exactly 30 minutes. The 48 cadets march these tours wearing dress tunic, carrying a rifle to symbolize the protection that our military and service men and women provide for this country. This is also our way of honoring the victims of that day.

The memorial consists of echo taps in the evening where the whole Regiment of Cadets salutes the flag as a unit while Amazing Grace plays across the campus. Following that, members of the corps and civilians participate in a candlelight vigil as a final remembrance for the sacrifices made 15 years ago today.

Every year we hold this memorial service to remember the second worst act of terrorism on U.S. soil in our country’s history. The men and women that gave their lives on that day shall never be forgotten. And this memorial, done by Norwich students, is the least we can do to honor the victims of these attacks. Regardless of if we remember the day personally or know someone who was affected, we will continue to memorialize the lives lost, and never forget why we seek to protect this great nation.