On Friday at 11:30 a.m., IUP held a ceremony in the Oak Grove to commemorate those who lost their lives in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Three IUP alumni died in the events of 9/11.
The three alumni were William Moskal, who graduated in 1979; Donald Jones, who graduated in 1980; and William “Bill” Sugra, who graduated in 1993.
The leader of the ceremonies for this event was Anthony (Joe) Clement, the interim director of university safety.
He began the event and introduced each of the speakers. IUP’s wind ensemble, directed by Dr. Timothy Paul, performed some patriotic songs to honor this monumental event.
IUP’s president, Dr. Michael Driscoll, was the first speaker invited to the podium. His speech was sentimental, and he was in disbelief that 20 years had passed.
“I cannot believe it’s been 20 years. For those of us who are old enough to remember Sept. 11, 2001, it’s a day we often recount with our friends and loved ones,” Driscoll said. “We remember where we were, we remember what we did and we remember what we felt.
“Sept. 11, 2001, was a pebble in the lake, and we are still feeling the ripples of it today.”
Though it can be sad and surreal to think about, it is important to acknowledge the drastic changes that occurred after that day.
IUP’s regional alumni ambassador and 2014-15 recipient of the Bill Sugra Memorial Scholarship, Bethany Barefoot, was the next speaker in the service.
Barefoot’s approach to the speech was to impress upon the importance of teaching young students about 9/11. Since there are fewer people in the world that remember that day, it is of utmost importance for students to learn about it.
“I was just shy of turning eight years old when the events of 9/11 unfolded,” Barefoot said.
Though she was a child at the time, her parents encouraged and allowed her to watch the news broadcasts and even documentaries about the event.
“It’s so wonderful that after 20 years, we as Americans have kept our promise to never forget,” Barefoot said. “Once a year, we take a recess from our daily lives to mourn, reflect and remember.”
Over the years, Barefoot learned more about Sugra, one of the IUP alumni who died in the events of 9/11, and some similarities they had.
“1993 was a really important year for the both of us,” Barefoot said. “It was the year that Bill graduated from IUP, and it was the year I was born.”
Barefoot added that both grew up in small towns but had a love for big cities.
Up next was Tim Lambert, a national award-winning journalist and a 1992 communications media graduate of IUP.
Lambert’s family owned part of the land where Flight 93 crashed. His focus for the speech was to talk about the 40 lives lost in Shanksville, Pa., and how complete strangers and normal people became heroes in a matter of seconds.
The passengers on United Flight 93 knew something was wrong and that they were in danger, and Lambert spoke on their actions following this revelation.
“They did the most American thing they could do; they voted on whether they should try to regain control of the plane,” Lambert said.
Lambert became emotional while describing the events that occurred next.
“Three minutes after 10 a.m., the aircraft plunges upside down into the ground in Stonycreek Township outside of Shanksville, traveling at a speed of 563 miles per hour,” Lambert said. “Investigators believe the intended target was the U.S. Capitol.
“The men and women on that hijacked jetliner likely saved the building and hundreds, if not thousands, of lives that day.”
Lambert said that 9/11 and his indirect involvement in it changed the trajectory of his life.
“It changed everything, really,” Lambert said.
At the point of his life when 9/11 occurred, Lambert was struggling personally, and nothing seemed to be going his way.
He even said that he “hated journalism at that point, but [9/11] brought [him] back to writing stories.”
Lambert said that talking to the families of the victims has helped him to be more empathetic, and he now knows how to sympathize with others who have lost family or friends as he has seen the grief firsthand.
“It gave me a different perspective on storytelling, and, of course, the award in 2006 changed everything,” Lambert added. “The whole thing has changed my life, probably in ways that I still can’t comprehend for another 20 years.
“There’s a bond with those families that just can’t be broken.”
The award he referenced was the Edward R. Murrow award, which Lambert won for an article that was called, “Flight 93, Five Years Later.” This article combined his coincidental and unique personal experience on 9/11 and his professional life.
Lambert is still combining his personal experiences and professional life as a journalist through a podcast called “Sacred Ground.”
The point of the podcast is to show a different side of the 9/11 stories. Instead of recounting the events from that horrific day, he made it more of a community effort and talks to people that were involved in Shanksville, such as family members and first responders.
Though Sept. 11, 2001, occurred more than 20 years ago, the stories and tragedies of that day will never be forgotten.