Tag Archives: September 11th

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)

University of Houston Building Special 9/11 Memorial

For those of us alive in 2001, September 11th is a day that few Americans will probably ever forget. I’m someone that misplaces my keys and phone on a regular basis, but the events of 9/11 are still crystal clear in my mind. In the span of a few short hours, our country would never be the same.

Houston is over a thousand miles away from Shanksville, Washington or New York City, but some University of Houston students took it upon themselves to create a special 9/11 memorial for the campus. Here’s more from Laura Gillespie of the Daily Cougar

“Back in 2009, the president at the time was Kenneth Fomunung. A student came up to him from the Student Video Network and said, ‘Hey, I heard we can get a piece of the World Trade Center. I heard that they’re giving them out to different organizations and things of that nature. You should look in to it,’” said SGA President Cedric Bandoh.

“Long story short, they applied for a piece in the New Jersey Port Authority, and after going through a series of paperwork and other things, they got the assistance of the then-vice president of Student Affairs, Dr. Elwyn Lee. And we were eventually approved for a piece of the World Trade Center, which was very, very exciting news.”

The artifact, a large piece of steel that was broken off during the September 11 attacks, will be raised and lighted and turned into a memorial at the New UC.

“The Student Government Association really led the effort. They wanted to have it as a site of history, of the country, and also they wanted it to take place adjacent to a large student traffic area so that it’s just a memorial of sorts that represents the history of our country,” said Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Keith Kowalka.

In the midst of a rapidly changing campus, it’s welcomed news that UH students took the initiative to honor such an important event in our history. Sounds like this will be worth a visit.

(photo credit: Keith Kowalka)

Freedom isn’t Free: The Benghazi attacks

I suppose it’s possible that it was a sheer coincidence, but the significance of an attack on September 11th isn’t lost to any living American. Most of us still remember that day… the beautiful weather (at least in my part of the country), watching TV and maybe thinking for just a split second that this was possibly the best movie special effect you’d ever seen in your life. Then realizing with shock and horror that you were witnessing an attack on our country. Suddenly, war, death and pain was no longer some far-off country’s problem… it was our problem. We were attacked, we were killed, and those left behind had to find the strength to rebuild.

This is why yesterday’s attack on the US Embassy at Benghazi, Libya is so tough to comprehend. US Ambassador Christopher Stevens, and 3 other brave Americans died at the hands of an angry mob. Our freedom is something that we continue to take for granted, even as those of us on the front lines continue to risk their lives (and sometimes sacrifice them) for our shroud of ignorance. But what was the cause of this senseless violence?

A film by Jewish real-estate developer named Sam Bacile is what sparked all of this outrage, and it continues to spread across the Muslim world. To Muslims, this film is highly offensive, casting the prophet Muhammad as an imbecile, and even a child molester. Eventhough the New York Post declared “it’s just a stupid movie!!” it wasn’t seen that way at all to the Muslim world.

Here’s what gets lost in translation… we live in a Democracy. We’re used to these types of things. And even when someone highly offends us, most Americans would rather demand an apology than try to cause the other person harm. And maybe in extreme cases, we’ll take our “fight” against them to a court of law. But burning and death rarely enter the picture for us. As a highly individualistic society, we also tend to seek individuals for blame over groups. If one person in somebody’s family is a racist, we don’t (ususally) assume every member of their family to be the same.

But outside our shores, Sam Bacile isn’t known to Libya. They probably didn’t take the time to parse out details of who created the film, or any of the motivations behind it. The mobs in Benghazi and Cairo simply saw “American”, and they reacted. To them, there is no difference between one self-identified hater of Islam, and the 312 million diverse, dynamic population that is the USA. We’re all just Americans. And to the minority of persons in these nations that already sought to harm the US, a film like this played right into their hands.

September 11th, 2012 was yet another reminder that freedom isn’t free. It’s a reminder that the live of privilege that we live in this country is attached to huge responsibilities. After posting such a bold statement as this D-movie has become, Mr. Bacile is currently in hiding. This person’s irresponsible behavior has now left him with blood on his hands. One has to wonder if he’s proud of this accomplishment now, and if he mourns the lives of these innocent Americans as well. As a wealthy man, would he be willing to reach out to these families and take responsibility for being so hateful and foolish?

As we continue to mourn the fallen, we as Americans also have to take heed. The blessing of living in a free country has consequences. Just because we are free to have and express our own opinions, no matter how vile they may be, does not exempt us from the responsibility to respect others. If we can’t do that, then we will continue to leave ourselves vulnerable to incidents like this.