September 11, 2001 was supposed to be a routine day. Millions of people in New York City awoke to travel to school or work. Then, an unthinkable tragedy that took more than 3,000 innocent lives and shook the foundation of countless more happened.
Eleven years later, more than 150 people – many of them local first responders – gathered at Claflin University’s Minsters’ Hall to remember heroes and those who were lost on 9/11. Despite the tragedy, University Chaplain Rev. Dr. Ken Walden told the audience America stands united.
“Ultimately, we are one,” he said.
“We thought it would be a regular day. But we all know that in life that unexpected always happens,” said Walden, a major in the U.S. Air Force Reserves. “It is etched in our conscience as one of the most horrific days in our nation. They will never be forgotten.”
Calvin Wright, executive director of the OCAB Community Action Agency, pointed out the room was filled with a diverse collection of people both young and old. He encouraged the younger generation present to remember the events of 9/11 and be a positive force in their communities.
Miss Claflin 2012-2013 Kristen Bell recalled she was only a fifth grader when the Twin Towers came down at the hands of terrorism. She was in class that morning when the school principal told teachers over the intercom to check their emails to avoid student panic. “I couldn’t understand the weight of that attack then. September 11 will always be remembered,” said Bell. “This is a great country.”
City of Orangeburg Police Chief Wendall Davis recalls that fateful day intimately. Flanked by a group of his officers yesterday, he lamented that the work of first responders is often a thankless job with little pay.
“I compare it to a ministry because we are summoned to do it. Those people knew the consequences of what they were facing. They placed the welfare of those in the buildings before themselves,” said Davis.
Frank Keith, a veteran of the U.S. Army who served in the Vietnam War, also told the younger members of the audience to acknowledge those who serve their country.
“Never forget those who stand in harm’s way every day,” Keith said.