Yesterday, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) commemorated the 10th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks with a “Remembrance Day” observance that included placing a patriotic wreath on the university’s flag plaza.
“We honor those who died on Sept. 11, 2001, those who valiantly gave their lives and those who continue to protect us today,” Dr. Mortimer H. Neufville, the university’s interim president, said. “Let us not forget them.”
Displaying a wreath at the base of the American flag in front of the J. T. Williams administration building culminated a 90-minute program that began at the nearby Henson Center. Tears welled up in the eyes of some as UMES’ students sang “Oh, Sweet Wonder.”
The subdued gathering included a brief sermon by the Rev. Elmer N. Davis Jr., and inspired recollections from some of the 80 students, faculty, staff and guests who attended the ceremony.
Senior Jamal C. Drayton, 26, of Salisbury, was in a high school chemistry when he learned of the attacks.
“It started to scare me,” Drayton said. “Some people started crying.”
Student government president Valarie V. Matthews, 21, was a sixth-grader in Baltimore when the attacks occurred.
“I honestly really do not remember my experience from 9-11,” said Matthews, a biology major. “But I know everybody was very upset.”
Jeffrey O. Ekoma, 20, lived in Rhode Island 10 years ago and remembers the unemotional look on the face of his social studies teacher, who cancelled the day’s lesson and turned on the television shortly after 9 a.m. Moments later, Ekoma said he saw the second plane hit the World Trade Center’s south tower.
“Everybody’s faced dropped. I thought, ‘What’s happening?’” said Ekoma, who hopes to study medicine when he graduates. “It was a moment I will never forget.”
That was the message delivered by Davis, pastor of St. James United Methodist Church and others who spoke prior to the flag plaza ceremony.
Beverly Long, an emergency medicine technician / firefighter with the Princess Anne fire department, represented local “first responders” at UMES’ event.
Long, a registered nurse, had just begun EMT training in 2001 that used a textbook with a picture of the World Trade Center buildings on the cover.
At the time of the attacks, “I realized how scared I was for my kids,” Long said. “My husband wasn’t thrilled by what I was doing. But I’m more committed than ever to what I do” as a volunteer EMT-firefighter.
Neufville, who shared that his daughter worked in an office building near the World Trade Center towers and witnessed the second plane crash into one of the buildings, told the gathering: “Let us be vigilant.”
Sunday’s observance was a somber, respectful start to Founders’ Week at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, which is celebrating the 125th anniversary of its founding on Sept. 13, 1886.
Remembering 9/11: A Day in Hell
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