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SPSU honors and remembers those lost during 9/11

SPSU honors and remembers those lost during 9/11

911 gatheringMarietta, Ga. (Sept. 9, 2011) – Recognizing the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia/DC, the SPSU community gathered together to remember the victims of those events and to honor first-responders, emergency workers, and all those who serve our country in uniform.

Remarks by President Lisa Rossbacher
Southern Polytechnic State University
Remembering and honoring on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 events
9 September 2011

A few times in every generation, some event – so triumphal or tragic – brings people together in the remembrance of where we were when we heard the news. “Where were you?” is a question that leads us to share a common experience with both friends and strangers. In our lifetimes, we have seen the assassination of a president, humans walking on the surface of the Moon, a Space Shuttle explode, and the collage of horror that marked September 11, ten years ago this Sunday. And we all remember where we were when we heard the news.

When I invited the University community to join me here by the flags this morning, I received a quick response from a faculty member. She noted that she would be unable to come because she is teaching right now, and she added, “I believe that continuing life in spite of what terrorists want to do to the US is also a legitimate response.”

She is absolutely right. One of the enduring lessons that we have learned over the past 10 years is the value of our freedom and our way of life. “Continuing life” is, as Professor Nuhfer-Halten points out, a right response.

We were all touched by the events of 9/11 and by what followed. Some of these effects have been political, global, and military – and some are individual, local, and personal. Members of our University community had friends and relatives who lost their lives 10 years ago. Some knew first responders, the EMTs, the police, and the firefighters who reported to the disaster scenes. Some used to work in the World Trade Center. Others were temporarily stranded in distant cities. We have all been touched in some way.

On an occasion when our country is thinking about what it means to be American, I’d like to turn to something from the literature of the First Americans. This is a poem from the Passamaquoddy Indians, the First Nation peoples who lived in northeastern North America before the arrival of Europeans; the title of the poem is “The Stars,” and it comes from the book “Technicians of the Sacred.”

For we are the stars. For we sing.
For we sing with our light.
For we are birds made of fire.
For we spread our wings over the sky.
Our light is a voice.
We cut a road for the soul.
For its journey through death.
For three of our number are hunters. For these three hunt a bear.
For there was never a time
When these three didn’t hunt…. This is the song of the stars.

The flags are flying at half-staff today, by order of the governor, in remembrance of the victims of 9/11 and to honor those who serve our nation in uniform. Lieutenant DiMaria will raise the American flag to the top of the flagpole and bring it back down to half-mast again, as we remember the victims and honor all of those who serve. We are also joined this morning by Chief Bauer and Sergeant Odum from our University Police.

Please join me in a moment of silence. Flag etiquette calls for us to honor the flag, as it is raised and lowered, with the salute of putting our hands over our hearts.

Thank you all for being part of this community remembrance of what happened 10 years ago – and all that has happened since. If you have a few minutes, I hope you’ll introduce yourself to someone who is here today whom you don’t know – and share your stories by asking, “Where were you?”