Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Candlelight Vigil Commemorates 9/11 Losses

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Students bow their heads during the moment of silence. PN Photos/Daria Parker.

Caleb Malcolm spreads the light at the campus 9/11 commemoration. PN Photos/Daria Parker.

By: Daria Parker

A candlelight vigil was held on campus to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

Students, faculty and the community of Pembroke gathered around the university’s water feature to listen to guest speaker and UNCP alum Caleb Malcolm, on Thursday September 9 Malcolm was assigned to the Pentagon at the time of 9/11.

“What you’re going to get today is not going to be extraordinary. Extraordinary would be in those aircrafts right before they made impact and being a part of that discussion of what’s going on, what can we do,” Malcolm said.

He explains the effect 9/11 has had on not only him but his family, and the lives of ordinary people. 9/11 affected Malcolm in a way that it did for most who experienced it, with anger. When 9/11 comes around each year, he doesn’t allow himself to watch programs on it because he understands what that day meant for him and others who witnessed the events 20 years ago.

Malcolm was assigned to the Pentagon Communication Agency from July 1999 to June 2002. He continued to serve in the Air Force until August 2017, when he retired as Lieutenant Colonel and moved back to North Carolina. Today he serves as deputy Vice President of Operations at Lumbee Tribe Enterprises. He remains active within the University by being a board member and President of the UNCP alumni association.

Malcolm’s speech issued a challenge to those listening that they may allow 9/11 to inspire them to do more for others, like the first responders did on that day.

“We need to take back the day that someone tried to take from us and do something positive with it, and then we spread it beyond these days,” Malcolm said.

In closing Malcolm takes said to exercise grace in their daily lives and spread it to others in the same manner there’s ponders of 9/11 did.

Following the speech an opportunity was provided the audience to share what 9/11 means to them or their experience with it, and the role it played in their lives.

Christopher Rivas, an exercise and sports science major, serves in the military and is in ROTC at UNCP.

“Seeing the accommodation of unity and the amount of volunteers that spurred over the past 20 years is something that weighed heavy on my heart. An obligation,” Rivas said.

Also in attendance was District Attorney of Robeson County, Matthew Scott.

“9/11 was my reason for joining the US Army,” Scott said. After completing law school in May 2002, Scott joined the United States Army June 2002. He served 8 1/2 years of active duty and currently holds the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army Reserve.

As the 20th anniversary of September 11th has come and gone, many use this time to appreciate the victims, military and first responders who gave much. Caleb Malcolm reminded us of this and how one can use this day to come together with one another and do good in remembrance of those who did so much 20 years ago. That is the challenge that we all should take away from Malcolm and the heroes of 9/11.

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