Livingstone College 9-11 remembrance

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 13, 2012

By Laurie D. Willis
Livingstone College News Service
SALISBURY – Although she was in just the fifth grade on Sept. 11, 2001, the day is etched in Livingstone College senior Garreesa Henry’s mind.
When Henry got home from school that day in the Virgin Islands, her grandmother told her that her aunt, Cheryl Joseph, who worked in New York City, was missing.
“I didn’t know if my aunt was alive or if she was safe,” Henry told Livingstone College students, faculty and staff assembled on the institution’s front lawn Tuesday morning for a Sept. 11 remembrance ceremony. “She is my only aunt from my mother’s side.”
After about 24 anxious hours, the family got the good news that Joseph was alive and well.
“Treat life as if it can be taken away in the blink of an eye,” Henry, a biology major, said during the ceremony. “You don’t know if you may lose your aunt, your mother, or another relative in another tragedy.”
For many Americans, the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks will forever be a painful reminder of loved ones and friends who were killed that day. Sept. 11 is also a reminder of how precious life is.
“I was in my fifth grade classroom and we were learning about social studies,” said Livingstone College Student Government Association President Dorian Edwards, a senior business administration major. “A teacher came to get our teacher, and when they came back in the room they got us and we … went to watch everything on TV. Back then I didn’t understand what was going on, but as I got older I understood.”
The ceremony was held in front of the J.C. Price Building and sponsored by Zeta Phi Beta Sorority. Student Dondra Springfield called the event to order, while her colleague Maxine Bryant led the litany of remembrance. The Rev. Juanita Allen gave the invocation, and Dr. Jacqueline Gray read a poem.
State W. Alexander III, executive assistant to the president and director of public relations, told the audience Livingstone professor Lewis Dowdy Jr. was personally touched by the tragedy. A college buddy of Dowdy’s at Johnson C. Smith University was on United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed near Shanksville, Pa..
“Today we join Americans across our nation in observing the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, which shocked our nation into a new reality,” Alexander said.
“It’s a new reality of insecurity and national resolve to protect our families, our freedoms and values from any threat which would again shatter the peace that we had come to enjoy. It’s important for us to remember … the three thousand people who perished that painful day. …”
Livingstone College Police Chief Gloria Blaire said she remembered learning of the attack from her oldest daughter, 5 at the time.
“She’d watch the news each morning before school, and she ran into my room and told me what had happened,” Blaire said. “What I’d like to leave with everyone is, although it was a tragedy, we should never forget, we should also never forget the way people came together that day and in the ensuing days.
“African-Americans, Caucasians, Asians and people from all types of cultures and ethnic groups were working together. If we stay united, we can pull through anything.”
Students released 20 light blue balloons containing prayers and wishes written by Livingstone College students.
Terri Stevenson, director of student activities, said she was especially proud of the students who participated in the remembrance ceremony.
“Even though most of our students were very young at the time, they understand the significance of that day and realize life is not to be taken for granted.
“We can’t bring back the lives that were lost … but we couldn’t let Sept. 11 go by unnoticed. I’m grateful to the students who participated in the program and those who took time to attend it.”