UNC Charlotte freshman Sam Jaeger was in third grade when airliners ripped through the twin towers of New York's World Trade Center and a third crashed into the western face of the Pentagon, just outside Washington, D.C.
He heard the news accounts - nearly 3,000 dead in attacks that included a fourth plane downed in a field in southern Pennsylvania - but his grasp of the events and their meaning was juvenile.
"Unless you knew someone, you didn't understand," Jaeger said. "Ten years later, you understand how devastating it was for the country and how it has changed things for America and the world."
So Jaeger joined other students at UNC Charlotte's student union building to observe the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, last week by writing personal messages to U.S. servicemen and women who are on active duty now. .
"I think it's a nice way to pay respects to the people who have done and seen the unfathomable," said Abby Lee, a senior from Concord, who joined the campus postcard campaign.
The university's Student Activities Department planned to send about 3,000 postcards to military personnel as a show of support for their service.
Last year, students and administrators delivered postcards to soldiers at Fort Bragg.
"It's a simple thing that any individual can do," said Brady Nails, who also took part in the postcard campaign Tuesday. "Hopefully, it matters to a man or a woman overseas."
The campus' week-long observance gave students a chance to write messages on a remembrance wall at the student union.
Army and Air Force ROTC cadet color guards carried flags Tuesday during a memorial speech by UNCC Vice Chancellor Art Jackson. A blood drive was to take place Thursday.
The university's observance continues today and Tuesday with programs for students and the community.
Senior Leana Zona, a Bostonian who is majoring in sociology, said she believes showing support for America's troops on the anniversary of the attacks helps create bonds within the community.
"It's an important date for me," Zona said. "As a nation, I think it's important that we have support so we don't crumble."