JSU's 9/11 Service
The procession begins on Trustee Circle. Pearl Williams joins President Meehan
and wife Beth.
Story by Abby KnightPelham Road has not been so empty for a year. Three hundred and sixty-five days ago, the students, faculty and staff of Jacksonville State University sat in front of televisions, hypnotized by what they saw. Today, they gathered in front of the flagpoles to remember that day.
Photos by Al Harris
(Please scroll down to see all photos.)
At 8:45 a.m., JSU SGA President Robert Hayes began the ceremony and introduced the program. It began with a silent 22-minute march around Trustee Circle.
"This procession is symbolic…" Hayes said. "Our movement is symbolic of progression, leaving behind the depression and devastation..."
The walkers were led by President Bill Meehan who lent a hand of support to Pearl Williams, mother of Major Dwayne Williams who was killed in the attack on the Pentagon. Also in the front line were Jacksonville Mayor Jerry Smith, SGA First Vice President Stephanie Janis, Faculty Senate representative Dr. John Jones, Lieutenant Colonel Herschel May, Jr., military representative and Deputy Chief Terry Schneider as a representative of first responders.
The red, white and blue procession moved in silence. They walked in groups of two or three. Some held hands; others wiped away tears. One member of the procession maneuvered her wheelchair around the bumps and curves of Trustee Circle; another was led by his seeing-eye dog.
While the procession made the silent march, the Marching Southerners, JSU's marching band, tuned up in front of Bibb Graves Hall. Their practice rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner" halted the sounds of construction from the Houston Cole Library. Workers stepped out onto the 12th floor balcony of the library to listen to the notes echo across the grass and against the building.
At 9:10, the procession returned to the front of Bibb Graves. Teresa Stricklin, accompanied by the Marching Southerners, performed the "Star Spangled Banner." Dr. Bill Meehan, president of JSU, then spoke briefly.
He spoke of the fear felt by many one year ago and encouraged the group to remember those who lost their lives and the courage of the heroes of that day.
"The destruction and pain experienced from any national tragedy can thrust us into depression, confusion and doubt," warned Meehan. "As we remember the events of September 11th, let us focus on the stories of triumph and human compassion."
Jacksonville Mayor Jerry Smith also addressed the crowd. Then the fifth grade class from Piedmont Elementary School, led by classmate Lindsey Boozer, sang "God Bless the USA." The crowd then joined the band and JSU choirs in a rendition of "God Bless America" before ending the ceremony.
Dr Mark Meade, of the biology department, attended the ceremony, accompanied by his wife Dara and 6 1/2-month-old son. Dara was doing her nursing practicum at Regional Medical Center when the attacks occurred.
"I was shocked," she recalled. Her father once worked at the Pentagon.
"I am here to pay honor and tribute to those who died on September 11, 2001," said Bryant Minton, a junior in Secondary Education from Hokes Bluff, Alabama. Minton, whose shirt read "Tomorrow is Another Day - September 11, 2001," also wanted to recognize the men and women in the armed services for their service to the country, particularly his father, a captain in the U.S. Air Force.
"I felt like I needed to pay respect to the people who gave their lives for us," said Aubrey Vines. She had just awoke one year ago, when her boyfriend called her to tell her about the airplanes hitting the Twin Towers.
"With so much going on and everything, it was the least we could do," said Jessica Bentley, a sophomore at JSU. "It makes you more grateful for everything."
Dr. Alice Cusiamano, Associate Vice President of Student Affairs, chaired the 10-member committee that organized the event. Committee members included Deputy Chief Schneider; Lt. Col. May; SGA President Hayes; Dr. McIntosh, head of the Music Department; Gary Brittain from Baptist Campus Ministries; Dr. John Ketterer, Director of the International House; Dr. Jane Kushma, Associate Professor of Emergency Management; Dr. Brenda Phillips, Professor of Emergency Management; and Dr. Steven Whitton, Professor of English.
Hundreds of participants marched.
President Bill Meehan is joined by Jacksonville Mayor Jerry Smith at the podium.
Fifth graders from Piedmont Elementary participated, performing "God Bless America."
Faculty and staff at Cole Library had a great view.
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