ST. GEORGE – Sunday will mark 15 years since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, shocked the nation.
In a ceremony commemorating the event Friday, Dixie State University students, faculty, staff and community members gathered at noon at the campus clock tower.
The ceremony was opened with a Dixie State ROTC color guard, included speeches and patriotic songs, and culminated with the release of hundreds of white balloons in honor of those who lost their lives in 9/11.
The event was organized by the Dixie State University Student Association.
DSU Dean of Students Del Beatty told the audience that some feel the grand American experiment is failing.
Irving Berlin, the composer of “God Bless America,” was himself a Russian Jewish immigrant, Beatty said. Irving wrote the famous song in 1918 while serving in the U.S. Army. In 1938, with the rise of Adolph Hitler and the looming world war, Irving felt it was time to release his peace song, Beatty said.
Irving included an introduction to the song, which is little-known and rarely sung, Beatty said:
“While the storm clouds gather far across the sea, let us swear allegiance to a land that’s free, let us all be grateful for a land so fair, as we raise our voices in solemn prayer.”
Beatty challenged the audience to never forget the events of 9/11.
“Will you join me in accepting the charge to remember and never forget the events that happened, the attack that our country underwent on 9/11? Will you discuss these events with your friends and family? Resolve to be a part of the national community that is attempting to fulfill the purpose upon which our nation was founded?” Beatty asked.
“I pledge to each of you that I will remember and never forget the events of 9/11 and I hope you’ll do the same,” Beatty told the audience.
Dixie State general counsel Doajo Hicks also spoke at the event. Hicks grew up in the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood of New York City.
“From my backyard, you can see the Manhattan skyline,” he said. “When the planes hit the towers, my mother was there at my house and observed all of this stuff – the horrific aftermath of what occurred.”
Hicks was also a member of the U.S. Coast Guard, worked at the White House and knew hundreds of people that were killed or affected by the disaster in New York and at the Pentagon. Hicks’ ex-wife worked in one of the towers but was able to get out safely.
“I know that this has affected us as a generation, it affected us in how we travel now, how we have to go through all this high security in the airport … how we have a lot of security issues and things put in place to protect us.”
“Remember those who lost their lives, these were everyday citizens like yourselves,” Hicks said.
“It’s important to know that people died for these freedoms that we have, and we must ensure that we keep these freedoms going, and do not let anyone take these away, because this is what’s important, and this is what this country’s all about.”
These are troubling times, Hicks said, with complaints of police brutality, differences of religion and other differences.
“Just remember that our forefathers created this country based on immigration, based on freedom of religion, based on freedom of speech,” Hicks said.
“These things are important. These are inalienable rights that are given to you by the Constitution our country is founded on,” Hicks said, “and we must continue these things and just ensure the American way survives.”
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