Flags were at half-staff Wednesday, Sept. 11 as the ROTC assembled to formally retreat the colors and hold a ceremony in honor of the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks of 2001. While the cadets stood at attention the flag was raised to the top of the pole and lowered to be folded.
Immediately afterwards Professor Deanna Austin spoke about her time in the Pentagon and her experience during the terrorist attacks. Austin, a former intelligence analyst, talked about how she had received a phone call from a friend asking for information on the World Trade Center attacks not too long before the Pentagon was struck and how she followed the attacks on the radio.
She also told about how her strong windows shook from the energy and noise of the jet so that it seemed as if they would shatter and how moments before the attack she had been composing talking points for the Pentagon’s efforts to obtain more counter-terrorism funding. She dryly noted that these notes did not end up being necessary.
Austin then told about her immediate reaction after the crash, when her thoughts went to a class of 35 that were meeting in an office nearby. After finding them she and all the other staff in the building, military or civilian, evacuated.
Though given the option to stay home the next day, Austin reported to work. Despite potential dangers from the recent damage to the building, Austin volunteered to go into the wreckage to retrieve classified information.
At the end of her speech, Austin spoke of the healing environment of Arizona and its benefits. She also mentioned a temporary memorial in Prescott Valley in honor of the victims of the 2001 attacks as well as the Granite Mountain Hotshots who died this summer.
The ceremony was part of an annual tradition by ROTC units every Sept. 11. Though flags are raised and lowered daily, there is a ceremonial reveille to raise the flag and a ceremonial retreat to lower it once each semester.