Twelve years ago, New Mexicans were just waking up when they heard the news about the September 11, 2001 attacks.
By dawn, cadets with the NMSU Army and Air Force ROTC were already packing up the canon they had fired in the darkness in remembrance.
The canons were fired at intervals for each plane that went down firing outside young hall as early as 6:46 local time into the dark rainy sky.
“Took a lot of us by surprise...small taste of what actually happened that morning.”
That’s Lt. Col. David McCoy. He leads cadets in the Army division of NMSU’s ROTC program.
“We knew it was coming but we didn't quite expect it...reminded me of that morning.”
For some the clouds and the rain today were appropriate. They wanted today to be a somber reminder of what happened 12 years ago.
“...Day of reflection and of deep thought and remembrance. And go about your lives and enjoy the freedom that you have.”
That morning in 2001 is one current cadets can still remember...but in a few years, that may no longer be the case.
Cadet Luis Fong is now in the ROTC. In 2001, he was in the fifth grade.
“It was like my classes’ turn to go to the pledge of allegiance...halfway through one of the principals rolled out a TV…I got to see the impact as it happened.”
His family -- his military family -- explained to him what it meant later that night.
“Regardless of what your political views are...people have gone out there and volunteered...to fight and to make this right.”
One of Fong’s family members died while in the military.
“I mean for anybody, losing a family member is painful enough...you start to see why they made that sacrifice...motivates you to...do better as a soldier.”
Lt. Col. Ira Cline leads the Air Force ROTC at NMSU. He remembers working twelve Septembers ago.
“I was on a mission with the U.S. Air Force...we knew that the world had changed at that moment and that things were going to forever be different for us.”
“Really I’m very thankful for the cadets that are in the corps today.”
Since Fong was in the fifth grade in 2001, it will only be a few more years before new members of ROTC programs across the country will be too young to remember September 11, 2001.
“Younger people may not appreciate what happened…”
2,267 U.S. soldiers have died worldwide in operation enduring freedom since it began.