The Indiana University Northwest community came together Thursday morning to remember the day that America can never forget.
Gathering at the flagpole on the east side of campus, IU Northwest students, faculty and administrators paid homage to the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center. Cadets with the IU Northwest ROTC program unfolded an American flag and placed it at half staff in observance of the seventh anniversary of the coordinated terrorist strike that killed more than 3,000 people. Birdine Gilliam, IU Northwest payroll administrator, began the ceremony with a rendition of the National Anthem.
“Why do we hold on to memories?” asked Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Kwesi Aggrey in his remarks to the crowd. “Why dwell on an event as painful as the one that we witnessed on Sept. 11, 2001?
“We are human,” he said. “And our history, good or bad, should guide our current and future actions.”
The morning observance of Sept. 11 has become an annual ceremony at IU Northwest, as it has at many schools and public institutions across the nation. This year’s commemoration came at a sensitive time on the Gary campus, where three employees were lost to illness or other tragedy in the month of August. That fresh grief only added to the resonance of Thursday’s ceremony.
“On Sept. 10, 2001, and even during the early morning hours of Sept. 11, a number of people left their loved ones for what they thought was going to be another normal day,” Aggrey said. “Have you paused to consider how many people did not even have a chance to say their good-byes to their loved ones, friends and colleagues?
“As we have lost dear colleagues, friends and family over the past year, we are left wondering why we never took the time to tell them how much we appreciated them,” he said.
In calling for a moment of silence, Aggrey encouraged audience members to hold hands as they considered both the price of the freedoms Americans enjoy and the sacrifices of the people who are asked to pay it. He noted that some current IU Northwest students, including two who laid a wreath at the base of the flagpole on Thursday, have already served combat roles in the U.S. military.
“Nine-eleven should always remind us that there is a cost to freedom,” the vice chancellor said. “Some people, including students whose lives we have touched on this campus, end up making the ultimate sacrifice so you and I may continue to live in a free society.”
As he did at last year’s Sept. 11 service, Aggrey encouraged campus community members to reach out to students, colleagues, perhaps even someone new, in an attempt to make a difference in another’s life.
“It is important for you to be at peace with yourself, with the knowledge that you have reached out and touched someone,” he said.
“As we go about our duties on campus … we must remember that there are still wars in the world. There is still suffering. Let us do what we can to help with the situation.”