Written Tanya Terry, with photos by Tanya Terry
On September 11, 2023, a crowd gathered around a beam from the World Trade Center, building one, that now has a home on the campus of Mott Community College. A September 11 Reflection took place on the south side of the Prahl College Center Building, at Mott, and stirred both memories and intense emotion. The event was held to reflect on the day four coordinated suicide terrorist attacks carried out by al-Qaeda against the United States.
“Like many of you, I could still recall where I was, what I was doing and the feelings that I had that morning,” stated Chief Jamie Zecman of MCC Department of Public Safety.
“As I watched the attack being pulled on our nation, I had feeling of anger, fear, helplessness, disbelief,” Zecman added.
Zecman said she could see the images of September 11, 2001, that had been stained into her brain as if the almost unbelievable events that took place happened yesterday.
Zecman’s husband was deployed to Iraq for several years as a result of those events. She pointed out both of her daughters’ first years of life were spent with a father overseas, defending our nation.
Yet Zecman said, like others, she will never forget the unique unity that arose out of the ashes of what is commonly called 9/11. She called for a moment of silence.
Dr. Beverly Walker-Griffea, president of Mott Community College, said the morning was about “honor, valor and courage.”
“We honor those who died and those who lived that were helping to save lives on this day 22 years ago,” she added. “On this day, at this time, we came together as a nation, seeking solace, with a determination to ensure that a terrorist attack would never happen on U.S. soil again. We were unified in the belief that we are all Americans.”
Walker-Griffea asked the group to always remember “the peace, the strength and the unity that allowed our nation to survive.”
Rev. Gerry Diener of The Forgotten Jail Ministry pointed out Americans would never forget where they were and what they experienced internally as a result of the events of 9/11.
“Our way of living has come under attack several times here in this nation,” Diener added. “If you back up a little bit, you’ve got 1968, April 4, Martin Luther King shot. I remember sitting at the dinner table that Thursday night with a TV in the background and hearing that, watching my parents’ reaction. I was 9 years old.”
Diener said at that time, he watched his father go to prayer.
He also asked the crowd to remember five years earlier, when President Kennedy was shot in the head, the first memory Diener said he recalls. At age 4, Diener saw his mom crying for the first time that he knows of. His mother told his dad. His dad had just went to prayer for our country.
Diener also discussed how the events of Pearl Harbor drove many to prayer, saying there is about a two-week period after a tragic event when people tend to pray more. Diener said we can’t wait for a tragedy but need to pray daily.
Diener said he remembers what he was doing when the beams that stood behind him were twisted.
“I was holding a newborn foster child that was born a preemie, with an underdeveloped heart,” he stated. “One of the things we could do if we could help it was not to let her cry because they didn’t know if her heart would be able to withstand the trauma of her crying.”
As Diener cried, he thought: “This girl can’t cry. She’s not old enough to see this.”
He asked the attendees to join him in prayer.
Angel Langford, an MCC music major, sang “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the ceremonial song. Langford told the Courier she was not born until 2002, after 9/11. But she witnessed as a child how safety was regulated after 9/11 happened.
“It was the first thing that brought me to a tension with being an American citizen and what it means what we can rally together in times of need,” said Langford.
Langford called her first time singing the nation anthem by herself “a blessing.”
The flag-raising for the ceremony was done by the MCC Police Department Detail.
The U.S. Army Bugle Call was done by Terry Baker, MCC Jazz Band member.