September 11th: 13 Years Changed

Never had Arkadelphia, Arkansas seen a sky more blue, or a day more beautiful.  Crossing the serene campus of Henderson State University for an early morning music theory class, I nor any of my peers had even a clue of what was to happen that morning.

After class, I visited with friends for just a minute, and then wandered to the student center.  That’s when the first news report caught my eye.  I stared at the monitor confused and fascinated, thinking that this was so surreal it could only be a movie.  I started watching when the first tower collapsed, and was paralyzed in below the screen until seeing the second tower meet the same fate.  Among the group of students around me, you could feel the shock sear through us as we all came to the realization… America was under attack.  Though we were over 1,000 miles from any of the crash sites, I kept thinking about how Arkadelphia and the East Coast started the day with those same crystal clear blue skies.  Only for those in New York, Washington, D.C. and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, their skies suddenly became filled with terror and complete uncertainty.  Here’s NBC news coverage of that day…

On September 11th, 2001, the United States of America changed.  In fact the whole world changed.  Many of us that remember that day will never process “safety” the same way again.  And of course for those of us personally affected with the loss of loved ones, 9-11 can’t even be put accurately into words.

But even if words fail and the pain still endures, September 11th is too important a day to ignore.  Commemorative events are being held across the nation today, including the city of Houston.  On the University of Houston campus stands one such commemoration… a beam from the World Trade Center in New York.  Here’s more on the memorial and today’s events from Mike Emery of UH News

Each day, members of the University of Houston community can reflect on this infamous day and pay tribute to those who lost their lives by visiting the UH World Trade Center Memorial and Reflection Garden – just outside of the south entrance of the New University Center (UC). The permanent memorial – obtained through a student campaign – contains a massive steel beam from the World Trade Center building that was destroyed by terrorists.

Community members will surely visit this campus site during this week’s 13th anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy that claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 people. To further pay tribute to those who lost their lives, as well as their surviving loved ones, the New UC will host several events and activities.

From 8 a.m. – 10 p.m., 9/11 photo exhibition will be on view in the hallway next to the UC Theater. At 4 p.m. in the theater, retired Marines Col. William Wiggins will share his military experiences following 9/11. Following Wiggins’ presentation, the theater will host a screening of the film “United 93,” which depicts the fate of hijacked United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed into a field in Stonycreek, Pennsylvania. All events are free and open to the public.

For many life events, thirteen years can sometimes seem pretty far removed.  September 11th is different… woven into the fabric of the nation.  The ripple effect of that day has resulted in the loss of thousands more lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, and potentially more as we face growing threats from ISIS.  It is certain that we will never forget.  Facing new challenges, let’s that we have not only changed, but also learned.

9-11 UH5

(This permanent World Trade Center Memorial at the University of Houston is free and open to the public)

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