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Standing in front of Samford Hall on a warm and clear Friday morning, Lt. Col. Nate Conkey addressed the group before him with a message of remembrance and one of thanks.

It was a special start to the day with an outdoor ceremony that carried a twofold mission: highlighting the willingness of several new cadets to selflessly serve their nation and remembering the lives lost 19 years ago on a similarly clear Sept. 11 morning. 

“This is a big moment,” said Lt. Col. 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.”

Before swearing in the day’s six new officer cadets, Lt. Col. 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.”

Although many of the cadets before Lt. Col. Conkey hadn’t yet been born when the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks occurred, he said the call for service to country remains strong. On Friday morning, six new cadets made that commitment official as they recited the Oath of Enlistment. The cadets agree to join the rigorous four-year leadership training program while receiving scholarships that cover tuition expenses at Auburn. Upon graduating, they will receive commissions as second lieutenants in the United States Army, where they will serve for four years or more.

In addition to the swearing-in ceremony, 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.

 

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