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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Campus Memorializes September 11 Events with Acts of Service

More than 400 participants, including many Old Dominion University student athletes, gathered with President John R. Broderick and First Lady Kate Broderick to honor first responders and military service members at the "September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance" event.

After a short ceremony on the steps of Webb University Center, attendees participated in a remembrance walk from Kaufman Mall to Norfolk fire station 7 on 43rd St. There, they compiled care packages, made paracord bracelets and wrote letters of support as part of a service project to benefit Operation Gratitude.

President Broderick noted it has been 14 years since the peace of that late-summer morning was shattered on Sept. 11, 2001.

"In reflection today, I thought of the many young adults on this campus who were just preschoolers when the 9/11 attacks took place," Broderick said. "Yet, our lives have been impacted profoundly and shaped by those events, every day since. The America we knew then is still very much the tall and proud America we know today, but it rekindled in us a sense of endurance and resilience."

At the conclusion of his remarks, the Brodericks laid a wreath at the foot of the American flag on Kaufman Mall for the lives lost, including four members of the Old Dominion University community -Cmdr. Robert Schlegel and Lt. Cmdr. Robert Elseth, of the U.S. Navy; and Spec. Craig Amundson and Lt. Cmdr. Karen Wagner, of the U.S. Army.

Old Dominion University Police Chief Rhonda Harris told the assembled audience that Sept. 11 is a terrible memory for all of us, but also an opportunity to recognize the service and sacrifice of first responders, and the shared feelings of togetherness the attacks engendered.

"The sense of community we felt in the tri-state area, in the D.C. area, and all across this country - that's how today is defined," Harris said.

Jeffrey Wise, Fire Chief for the City of Norfolk, addressed the crowd as well, accompanied by more than a dozen uniformed first responders.

"Fourteen years ago, the way we live our lives in America changed," Wise said. But the popularization of the phrase "first responder" emerged in the aftermath of the terrible attacks, Wise added, a recognition that these brave men and women were the first to spring to action in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

"What this University is doing today is in the spirit of that feeling," he said.

At Norfolk fire station 7, President and First Lady Broderick presented a gift of appreciation on behalf of Old Dominion, while the service event for Operation Gratitude took place on the field adjacent to the fire hall.

The care packages that were assembled will be distributed to deployed military men and women, first responders and military families. The service event represented the official kickoff of the 85 Hours of Service campaign, a challenge for members of the Old Dominion University community to perform 85 hours of community service during the school year. Participants at Friday's event signed a poster pledging to complete the task.

"We are excited when we can take our service projects out into the community," said Lacy Jaudon, coordinator for service for the University's Office of Leadership and Student Involvement. "Even if it's only a few steps off campus, events like this help us make a difference in our community."