Those on campus were able to honor area public safety personnel Tuesday in commemoration of 9/11.
Although the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001 happened many miles away from southern Illinois, some Carbondale public safety officers and veterans do a similar job as those who risked and sacrificed their lives in response to that event. Eleven years after 9/11, SIU students and faculty honored veterans, firefighters and public safety officers by making them handmade support cards in the Faner breezeway Tuesday.
The Center for Service-Learning and Volunteerism at SIU hosted the event and offered construction paper, patriotic stickers and markers to make the cards unique. The cards, created by students and faculty, will be sent off to the SIU Veteran Affairs program, SIU Department of Public Safety and Carbondale police and firefighters.
Jennifer Seaman, a graduate assistant in the Center for Service-Learning and Volunteerism who helped with the event, said the activity was meant to recognize the men and women who responded after the attacks.
“This is a great event that allows everyone to take time out to remember and reflect on those who lost their lives that day and those who helped save lives that day,” Seaman said.
Others who helped with the card-making said although it wasn’t a huge event, it was important.
“It’s a good way for younger people to show appreciation. It’s the little things that matter,” said Leah Westjohn, a junior from Teutopolis studying civil engineering.
Matthew Riechers, a senior from Springfield studying civil engineering who also helped with the event, said the gesture of sending cards to professionals in the area serves as a reminder of what others did on 9/11.
“This is just a great event, something to remind us of what happened and thank the men and women and their families,” Riechers said.
Members from the, Veterans Organization, a Registered Student Organization also stopped by the tables to make cards.
“We want to make sure we act as a good support system for each other,” said Ryan McKennedy, a senior from Rochester studying psychology and vice president of the Veterans Organization. “Days like today we try not to think about the specific tragic events, but instead take a moment of silence at some point throughout the day to show respect and honor.”
While many students and faculty paid tribute Wednesday to those affected by 9/11, others said they tried not to remember the events of that day.
Lt. Col. Melanie Friedman, the Air force ROTC detachment commander, was working in the Defense Intelligence Agency in the Pentagon on Sept. 11. She said she survived that day because she was in the right place at the right time.
“I was scheduled to go into a meeting right where the plane crashed,” Friedman said. “If it had been 10 minutes later I would have been dead. It was luck, pure dumb luck.”
Friedman said at first many people thought the building was shaking because of recent construction to the Pentagon, so they didn’t think it was very severe at first. But once they stepped outside and saw all the smoke, she said, reality set in.
“Twenty minutes after they hit, firefighters began using the center courtyard where we would have lunch as a place to lay the bodies as they pulled them out,” Friedman said. “I just remember looking out there and seeing tons of white sheets over everyone.”
Friedman said she planned to have moment of reflection Wednesday, but will not dwell on the thought because it is not a day in her memory she wants to think about much.