GMC 9/11 observance

GMC Prep cadets write the names of those who lost their lives in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the ensuing war in this 2018 file photo. The school will hold its 2019 Patriot Day ceremony Wednesday morning when the students will once again create the memorial on the Old Capitol bricks. 

It has been almost 18 years since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. 

Just a month after airplanes flew into the World Trade Center’s twin towers and Pentagon, killing thousands, the U.S. House of Representatives created a bill to name Sept. 11 Patriot Day. The bill’s intent was to make the date a national day of mourning and remembrance for those who lost their lives. The first Patriot Day was observed on Sept. 11, 2002.

For the past few years locally, Georgia Military College Prep School has held a ceremony to ensure that its students know the losses the country endured when the terrorist acts were committed. The cost was spread out not only in the days after Sept. 11, 2001, but also for years in the ensuing Global War on Terror. The public is invited to attend and remember the cost alongside GMC Prep students and staff Wednesday morning for this year’s Patriot Day ceremony scheduled to begin during formation on Grant Parade at 7:40 a.m.

A couple of special guests will be on hand, including representatives from military veterans mortgage lender NewDay USA. As in years past, the company CEO Rob Posner will present scholarships to GMC Prep students whose lives have been directly affected by the Sept. 11 attacks or the ensuing war. Past recipients have family members who were either killed or injured while serving their country. 

Speaking at the ceremony will be Army Sgt. 1st Class Daniel J. Metzdorf, who can be counted among those injured while in service as he is the first above the knee amputee to remain on active duty with the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division. Metzdorf was deployed as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. While he was on night patrol, a roadside bomb exploded killing three soldiers and severely wounding three others. Among the injured was Metzdorf, whose right leg was struck and severed by flying debris. His leg was later amputated 8 inches above the knee, and he has since undergone 27 surgeries at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Maryland. He passed three medical review boards so he could re-enlist with the 82nd Airborne and eventually did so on Veterans Day 2004. Metzdorf has been featured in national publications and has told his story on television on “The Today Show” and “The Early Show.” According to his bio, he is one of the first amputees in the country to have an osseointegration implant, which is a prosthetic device connected directly to the amputee’s femur bone. 

In addition to speaking at the GMC Patriot Day ceremony, he will also address the prep school students and college Corps of Cadets while he is on campus. 

At 8:46 a.m. Wednesday, echoing taps will be played to coincide with the time the first tower was struck 18 years ago, and members of GMC’s Corps of Cadets will perform a 21 gun salute.

Once formation is over and throughout the school day, GMC Prep students will begin memorializing those killed in the 9/11 attacks and the War on Terror in a unique way. Cadets will write more than 10,000 names on the brick walkway leading up to the Old Capitol Building. Each year the memorial usually extends on around the building’s west side, serving as a poignant reminder for just how much of an impact those Sept. 11 attacks had on our nation. Members of the public wishing to participate in creating the memorial will be provided a list of names. 

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