Eighteen years ago Wednesday, one of the most horrific terrorist attacks in history happened. Some students may be able to remember what they were doing on that day, while some others may not have even been born yet. This day continues to have an impact on every American citizen, whether you have memories from that day or not.
Wednesday morning IUP held a memorial service in the Oak Grove that has happened every year since the 9/11 attacks. As President Driscoll, speakers, students, professors, first responders, military personnel and bystanders filtered in, the band played patriotic music.
“Eighteen years ago on this day, we vowed that we would remember,” the first speaker, Laurie Frisina Kuzneski of Indiana, a 1983 IUP graduate and member of the IUP Council of Trustees started out by saying.
She talked about how she was supposed to be with her best friend in New York City that morning while she worked in the fashion district. But, at the last minute, she decided to stay home with her 2-year-old daughter, and her best friend chose to still go. Her friend’s flight ended up delayed in Ohio; thus, she was safe.
Concluding her speech, there were four chimes to symbolize the planes that crashed into the Pentagon, the Twin Towers and Shanksville in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.
“The sky was bright blue, and the morning air was cool while the leaves began to dry. Nothing was different here at IUP until 8:46 a.m., which is when the first tower was hit,” Driscoll said.
Unfortunately, three IUP alumni were killed during the attacks: William Moskal, a 1979 graduate; Donald Jones, a 1980 graduate; and William Sugra, a 1993 graduate. Both Jones and Sugra worked for Cantor Fitzgerald in the North Tower of the World Trade Center, while Moskal was a risk consultant for Marsh and McLennan in Cleveland, specializing in heavy construction. He was in New York City that morning to attend a meeting.
IUP’s marketing director, Chris Noah, began to share his story about that horrific day. Noah is from Middletown, New Jersey, and was working in New York City during the time of the attacks. He reflected on that he was lucky enough to make it home to his family that day, but 37 other Middletown residences were not. That day taught him to “let go of the small things, love your friends and love your family,” he said.
Following his speech, Kevin Thelen, director of IUP police, reflected on what 9/11 has taught him and how it has affected him as a first responder.
“What do we really mean when we say never forget?” Thelen said, and he then elaborated that we can live our lives by this saying every day.
He thanked all the young people for being there and encouraged them to talk to the younger generations about the importance of 9/11.
To conclude the memorial, the band began to play “Amazing Grace” as people began to leave or pause for a moment of reflection.