They said it was a day forever embedded in their memory.
Now, Student Body President Matt Diaz, Lt. Col. Larry Braue and Director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) Aziz Talbani will co-host a memorial service tomorrow, commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Diaz, a New York native, was headed to his seventh-grade class through downtown Manhattan with his mother on the morning of Sept. 11. Shortly after 9 a.m., his teacher turned on the classroom television, where he saw flames engulfing the World Trade Center twin towers. He gathered with his classmates to pray.
New York City became united, he said.
Braue, USF director of Veterans Services, was enlisted in the army that day and was training cadets in USF’s ROTC program. That morning changed everything, he said; the way he trained future members of the Army, the future of his career and his outlook on life.
America became a nation of war, he said.
Talbani, said he remembers every image of the TV news broadcast that morning. Watching “shocking” images, his thoughts drifted to his relatives and friends in New York, hoping they were OK. He realized his wife and children wouldn’t be able to board a flight the next morning as they had planned. He couldn’t look away from the TV.
The world became entwined, he said.
The event, hosted by Student Government (SG), Veterans Services and OMA, will feature former U.S. Representative Jim Davis and USF President Judy Genshaft and will be held from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the Marshall Student Center Oval Theater.
The event will honor those who lost their lives and celebrate those who risked their lives, Braue said.
“It’s a good day to remember and reflect,” he said. “I really want people to remember the heroes that risked their lives to save others that day – the firefighters, the police. That day was mayhem, but there were a lot of brave people that did brave things that day, and those are the people I want to remember.”
Diaz, who moved from New York in 2003, said his feelings on Sept. 11 have not changed.
“Always remember. Never forget,” he said. “That’s the attitude I grew up with. New York was never the same after that. The United States was never the same after that. It’s unfortunate, such a sad event had to happen to bring out patriotism and love for our nation. It kind of re-instilled that passion, love and patriotism for the United States.”
Talbani said it is important to educate USF students on the significance of Sept. 11, especially since “much of our undergraduate population was very young at the time.”
The OMA’s co-sponsorship of the event is due in part to how much their work has changed since Sept. 11, he said.
“We want people to understand what an important event this is in history and have empathy for the families and victims of the event,” Talbani said. “We still have to work on some of the issues society is facing – racism, prejudice and discrimination. Now, we realize it is a global society and we are an interconnected society. It has changed culturally and economically.”
Diaz said witnessing a city in distress on his ride home from school changed everything from the way he rode the subway to the way he felt in his own home. Friday’s event will close a chapter in American history, he said, as well as his own.
“I hope it serves as a proper remembrance and an educational event to show where we’ve come in the past 10 years,” he said. “It brings closure to a decade, not just for the students, but the families. It’s a real testament to the American drive to rebuild.”