COLUMBIA — Tears filled Joe Collins' eyes as he remembered the images on TV of the hijacked planes flying into the towers of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
"I thought it was a mind game. It wasn't until the drill sergeants turned on the TV that I knew it was true," Collins said.
"I don't try to reflect back on it."
On the day of the attacks, Collins was attending Army basic training at Fort Knox, Ky. Since the attacks, he has served two deployments to Iraq.
Collins now works as a user support analyst for the Missouri School of Journalism. He attended the Patriot Day barbecue on Francis Quadrangle at MU on Tuesday evening with his wife, Melissa Collins, and their 2-year-old daughter, Caitlin.
"I think it's a fun event because it brings not only our most recent vets together but others from other wars. It's a nice camaraderie," Melissa Collins said.
MU Chancellor Brady Deaton and his wife, Anne Deaton, opened their home for the first ever Patriot Day Barbecue. A group of musicians called Boone County Fire Protection District Pipes and Drums played a medley of military songs.
But 6-year-old Aidan Edmonds' favorite part of the barbecue was getting to see Truman the Tiger.
His father, Matt Edmonds, served in New York City on 9/11. He is now an undergraduate student at MU studying electrical engineering.
"It was really welcoming for my family to see where I am," Matt Edmonds said.
Jazz music and the smell of barbecue made for a relaxed atmosphere as veterans and their families conversed about how the country has progressed in the 11 years since the attacks.
"Over the last few years, it is not quite as much of a focus on the loss as it is a celebration of the heroism," said Nicole Johnson, the wife of a veteran graduate student at MU.
Supervising editor is Jacob Kirn.