American Flag at the UC Fountain

Americans will ring true the infamous slogan of “Never Forget” as millions across the nation remember and honor the horrendous loss of life Sept. 11 that was televised before our eyes 18 years ago.

The University of Memphis’ Young Americans for Freedom chapter will host an event called the 9/11 Never Forget Project on Sept. 11. The group will place 3000 mini U.S. flags for every life lost over the UC lawn and hold a moment of silence.

The president of the organization, Grace Bakers, said that she wants to make sure this piece of American history is never forgotten.

“What we are doing is raising awareness of the great strength of the American people,” Baker said. “It was a great tragedy, but it was a time that Americans really came together as a nation.”

As the 20th anniversary nears, Baker along with the chapter hopes to organize a special service and have a veteran or pastor speak.

A UofM history professor specializing in the 20th-century history Aram Goudsouzian, said he was living in Boston in 2001 while writing his dissertation. A graduate student at the time, he remembers hearing the initial reports on the radio and out of curiosity, decided to turn on the television to see if it was true.

“Minutes after I turned on the TV, the second plane slammed into the (South) tower,” Goudsouzian said. “I sat there all morning, by myself, kind of paralyzed. I called my friend, who was living in New York, but no one had cell service in the city. I was too afraid to call his parents to see if they had any news.”

During that time, Goudsouzian said he was teaching a class at Suffolk University but was uncertain as to how he should discuss the recent tragedy with students the following day.

“I wasn’t sure how to discuss the tragedy with the students,” Goudsouzian said. “We talked about it for a minute or two, and then I delivered a regular history lecture. I wish I had been a stronger presence for those students.”

On Sept. 11, 2001, 19 hijackers from the Islamic terrorist group, al-Qaida, conducted four coordinated attacks in under five hours. The hijackers murdered 2,977 people, making it the worst attack on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbor in 1941.

Tripp Vistica, a UofM senior, was friends with the son of Fred Smith, founder of FedEx, at St. Dominic School for Boys when the attacks occurred. Vistica said that he went home with Smith in a black suburban and that he was terrified.

“I can recall that the whole house was frantic because of how big of an influence he is,” Vistica said. “We thought Memphis would be a target since it headquartered one of the biggest American companies in the world. As a kid, I was speechless, and the stories everyone says about how the country stood still was true. Stores were closed, hardly any cars were in the streets, and the city just felt dead.”

The events of 9/11 would affect younger people that had no recollection of the day as well. For Jessica Davis, a freshman at the UofM, she was only a year old during the 9/11 attacks but found out about it while browsing YouTube 10 years later.

“As I got older, I saw so many documentaries and talked to my parents about it,” she said. “In a way, I am glad I never had the chance to see it live. But because of it, it made me grow up in the (more secure) world we have today because of those terrible events.”

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