UNCP Students hold candles during a moment of silence to honor those impacted by 9/11. PN Photo/Abigail Chabala
By: Abigail Chabala
A candlelight vigil was held at UNCP to honor the people impacted by the tragic events of September 11, 2001.
Twenty-one years ago, Islamist extremists attacked America. It was a regular Tuesday morning for America when suddenly two planes were hijacked and flown into the twin towers at the World Trade Center in New York. There was another plane that was flown into the Pentagon in Washington, and the fourth plane crashed into an empty field in Pennsylvania.
The vigil was held by the Community and Civic Engagement office at the UNCP Water feature.
This year’s guest speaker was Mary Tallouzi, a representative from the Wounded Warrior Project whose mission is to honor and empower wounded warriors.
“Today we serve the warrior, the community and their family,” Tallouzi said.
Tallouzi’s oldest son was in the Army, and in 2006 he suffered a traumatic brain injury. Her son’s injuries caused him to go into a coma. Three years after the injury, he passed away in 2009.
Tallouzi is now a representative for the Wounded Warrior Project. Stories related to injuries amongst our military are reasons why this program exists.
The Wounded Warrior Project helps veterans with their mental and physical wellness and with the transition from military life to civilian life.
The Director for Academic and Military Outreach at UNCP, Jasmin Coleman, also spoke during the vigil. Coleman and her husband were both in the U.S. Army during 9/11. The morning of the attack, Coleman was at Womack Army Medical Center, a military hospital in Fort Bragg, NC, for her husband to have a routine surgery. Coleman was seated in the waiting room with others in the hospital and the news displayed the events of that morning on the TV.
“Good Morning America was on and I was watching the TV, and they cut away and said that there was some type of a fire at the World Trade Center, and they thought a small plane might have hit one of the towers,” said Coleman.
“While they were trying to figure it out, live on TV, I saw the second plane hit and everyone in the waiting room just looked confused,” said Coleman.
“I thought it might have been a movie promo on TV because of how unbelievable it all was,” said Coleman.
One of the people in the waiting room that Coleman was familiar with was a Chief Warrant Officer waiting for his mother to get out of surgery.
“His phone goes off and he has to leave. He can’t even see if his mom makes it out of surgery, and he says, ‘we’re going to war’ and I never saw the man again, and that was the last thing he said to me,” said Coleman.
Coleman thought about how her husband was under general anesthesia and how she needed to get back there to tell him what was going on. Once he was out of surgery, she finally made it to the back and his unit had already contacted him through the hospital to be on standby. He did not have to deploy.
“When I talk to our student veterans, it’s the battle after the war. The battle to get the support that you need, even for those who are not veterans, or those not from a military family, can be a resource. You can be someone who knows projects like the Wounded Warrior Project. We’re living every day shoulder to shoulder with people who were impacted by the ramifications of one event,” said Coleman.
Although the events of 9/11 happened twenty-one years ago, people are still affected by them today.