STATESBORO, Ga. (WTOC) - Hundreds of Georgia Southern students gathered Wednesday morning before dawn to honor the first responders of September 11.
For the ROTC cadets, Sept. 11 started early, and with a reminder of the sacrifice of others.
Nearly 300 cadets went up and down the bleachers of Paulson Stadium until they had climbed the nearly 2,000 steps the firefighters covered inside the Trade Center towers.
“We’re wearing shorts and T-shirts. It’s pretty cool weather. The firefighters were wearing 100 pounds of gear, if not more than that,” said Cadet LTC Mattie Cantrall, Georgia Southern ROTC.
Cantrall came up with the idea as a way to honor the heroes. Their commander says it reinforces their mantra of service and sacrifice.
“That feeling of 'send me. I’ll be the one to sacrifice and run toward danger," said LTC Brian Montgomery, Military Science Professor. “If we can make that connection, that’s what I want to carry on.”
Cantrall was 3-years-old that day when the world changed. She says it’s helped point her toward a military career.
“Our military went and took care of what needed to be taken care of. That played a huge part,” she said.
LTC Montgomery was a West Point Cadet. He’s lost more than a dozen of those classmates since in the War on Terror.
“You never know when it’s going to be your time," Montgomery said. “When the time comes, who’s going to be the ones to raise their hand and go?"