The 9/11 attacks are the single deadliest terrorist attack in the history of the world, and they are also the single deadliest day ever for both firefighters and police officers in the United States. 

The 20th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, is Saturday.

Every year, the anniversary of that day brings back vivid memories for people around the United States.

Although most IUP students were too young to fully comprehend the events of that day, the anniversary brings back a flood of memories for professors at the university.

“I was at the University of Pittsburgh at the library where I was a graduate student then, and I went to study before my afternoon classes,” Dr. Marjorie Zambrano-Paff (Spanish) said. “It was a regular morning until we were told that we needed to evacuate the library immediately.

“Nobody knew what was going on because there were no TVs at the library, and cell phones back then were not smartphones, so we could not check online right away what was happening.”

Zambrano-Paff decided to go to the 13th floor of the Cathedral of Learning where the chair of the romance language department informed her and others of what was happening.

“My sister managed to call me from Nicaragua while I was walking back to my apartment,” Zambrano-Paff said. “She was crying frantically because the news in Nicaragua said that a second plane crashed in Pittsburgh.”

Flight 93 crashed two miles north of Shanksville, Pa., which is about 60 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. This was one of the four planes that crashed on 9/11, killing all who were on it.

The news coverage on the attack was jarring for many.

“It was one of the most horrific scenes to witness,” Zambrano-Paff said. “I could see people jumping off the building.”

Citizens of the United States struggled to understand what they were hearing about and witnessing on their TVs.

“After the second plane, I knew it was more than just an accident,” Dr. Aleea Perry (political science) said. “News from the Pentagon and Pennsylvania made it clear that it was coordinated and far-reaching.

“What ‘peace’ we had upon our shores since Pearl Harbor was gone in an instant.”

The events left many feeling shaken and sad.

“I was in tears, I was afraid, I was alone,” Zambrano-Paff said. “I could not call anyone because the lines went crazy.”

Lt. Col. Dennis Faulkner, professor of military science at IUP, was an active-duty service member when the events of 9/11 occurred.

Faulkner was assigned as the Executive Officer for HHC 2-35 Infantry at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii. He was participating in a field training exercise on the north side of Oahu when he heard the news.

“I recall overhearing my company commander having a discussion with his wife on his cell phone,” Faulkner said. “I remember him repeating what she was relaying: ‘What... they hit the Pentagon and the World Trade Center?’”

Shortly after, Faulkner was ordered back to base for further instructions.

“All military bases immediately shut down and installed new and very draconian security measures for entry onto each base,” Faulkner said. “The main problem was roads and the physical structure of most post entry points at that time were not hardened in any meaningful way, so everyone easily recognized how vulnerable all these military posts were to attack.”

Faulkner expressed the importance of remembering the events of 9/11 and recognizing the bravery and service of so many people in the United States.

“I think it’s important to remember the sacrifice of so many Americans,” Faulkner said. “Yes, service members, but also, first responders, average Americans who found themselves in a position to help their fellow citizens on that day and average Joes that decided they were not going to let terrorists win and declared ‘let's roll,’ being the first Americans to fight back against terrorist on Flight 93.

“We should remember their sacrifice and honor it by living our lives as Americans: free, proud and fearless. This is the greatest respect and honor we can pay to any patriot.”

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