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Patriot Day Ceremony at Concord University

By Savannah Cooper
On November 12, 2018

To observe Patriot Day and remember all the lives lost in the terror attacks of Sept. 11, Concord University held a remembrance ceremony.

This year marks the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 travesty. For the 2018 Patriot Day ceremony, Concord welcomed guest speaker Colonel Corina M. Boggess to help remember everyone who was a part of the attacks.

Boggess has thirty-five years of leadership experience and has been awarded for a number of achievements. Some of these bestowments include the Army Distinguished Service Medal and the Distinguished West Virginian Award.

Her educational background is just as extensive as her award list. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from West Virginia University, Master of Arts in Organizational Management from the University of Phoenix, Master of Science in Strategic Studies from the United States Army War College, and a Doctor of Executive Leadership at the University of Charleston.

This was a memorable Sept. 11 ceremony for Boggess, because this is the first time she spoke in front of an audience since the attacks. She explained that in previous years, she would refrain from turning on the morning news to avoid the constant replays of the attacks. She said she would always “stay home and read a good book” to pass the day.

Sept. 11 is a hard day for her to observe because she worked at the Pentagon during the time of the terrorist attacks in 2001. She explained that she not only worked at the Pentagon during this time, she was also scheduled to hold a meeting on Sept. 11 in one of the conference rooms that was hit during the attacks.

She described how the section of the Pentagon that was hit was the same section that had recently undergone construction. The remodel included a new steel framework for the building. Boggess credited this steel reinforced concrete for keeping the building up long enough for people to evacuate.

To put the size of the building in perspective for her audience, Boggess joked that it might take longer to walk from one side of the building to the other than it would to drive from her house to the Pentagon in Washington D.C. traffic. A building this large could take a while to evacuate. Employees still getting used to the new design and layout of the section also did not help evacuation efforts.

The one thing that sticks with Boggess the most about Sept. 11 occurred the Thursday before the attacks. She stated, “This was where my life started to unfold with the events of 9/11.” On this particular Thursday, she was asked to come in and brief one of the generals she served under on an emergency action plan. This man was the last one who needed to sign off on the plan in order for it to be enacted.

She said, “I was sitting in this conference room explaining this mass causality plan, and about thirty minutes into it I could see his eyes glazing over. He said, ‘You know, I don’t get this. I don’t understand. What do you mean by mass causality?’ So, I had to think for a few seconds about what would institute a mass causality. So I said to him, ‘Imagine a major airliner flying into an office building in a major metropolitan city.’”

After their conversation, the general explained he would think about the plan for a few days before he signed on any papers. Boggess kept the emergency plan sitting on her desk for the rest of the week and ended up reading it again the morning of 9/11 after seeing the news coverage of the attacks on the twin towers. It was at this moment she realized she would not be making her scheduled meeting.

Oddly enough, on the evening of 9/11 after the attacks took place, she ran into that same general who she briefed on the emergency plan the previous Thursday. The only thing he said to Boggess was, “You know, I didn`t really like your scenario very much.”

Boggess went on to explain how although 9/11 was a horrific tragedy, it brought Americans closer together and helped bring out the best in people.

Concord freshman Makayla Kelly agreed with Boggess by stating, “Of course 9/11 was a tragedy, but it is also a sign of patriotism. It proves that Americans can come together and rise above the ashes.” For this reason, Kelly praises Concord for holding events like the Patriot Day Ceremony and having Boggess speak. Kelly said it is important for Concord to hold these events to “bring awareness and remember things that shouldn’t be forgotten.”

Boggess sharing her experiences with students and the community shed a light onto an important piece of American history and exemplified the heroism that people portray in times of need.



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