CSU Hosts Communitywide Remembrance of 9-11 Attacks

COLUMBUS, Ga. -- On Tuesday, Sept. 11, Columbus State University’s Cunningham Center is the site for a first-of-its kind, communitywide and daylong “September 11 Remembrance Day.”

Opening at 9 a.m., the event will feature educational displays; community public safety exhibits and demonstrations; videos, artifacts and stories from “Ground Zero” in New York; musical performances; and a closing vigil at 8 p.m. and military fly-over at 8:15 p.m.

The event will honor the victims of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, while educating the community about the many subsequent measures in place to prevent or counteract a potential, similar tragedy, said one of the organizers, Tony Oxford, chief executive officer of National Security Associates.

In addition to Oxford’s organization, others participating are the Muscogee County School District, the Muscogee County sheriff’s and fire departments, Homeland Security, God Bless Fort Benning, Columbus Museum, Salvation Army, Columbus Consolidated Government, Community Emergency Response Team, CSU’s Cunningham Center for Leadership Development, and the university’s Student Government Association and Student Activities Council.

Inside the center’s banquet hall, the remembrance will include:

• Ground Zero artifacts including a 1,700-pound piece of World Trade Center steel, rescue equipment, personalized notes and messages, flags and more provided by Oxford, who also served as a rescue worker at Ground Zero.

• Personalized items memorializing 9-11 Pentagon victim Marjorie Champion Salamone, provided by her mother, Lillian Champion of Pine Mountain.

• Simultaneous and continuous large-screen video presentations of the “Inside 9-11” documentary; live news feeds from remembrance events in New York City, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania; and a compilation of local news interviews from 2001 with local officials and ground zero rescue workers.

• Hazardous device response demonstrations utilizing both a robot and explosives-sniffing canine.

• Musical performances, from 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., by high school ensembles: Spencer (band), Jordan (chorus), Northside (chorus), Carver (drum line), Kendrick (orchestra) and Columbus (chorus). Also, tenor Cy Dietrich will perform from 6:45-7:15 p.m.

Outside the banquet hall, both interactive and informational displays will line the foyer. God Bless Fort Benning, for example, will facilitate a table for guests to write to service men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as coloring and essay-writing activities for kids.

God Bless Fort Benning also will provide a commemorative 26-by-32-foot American flag that will hang from the front of the center. The flag contains panels of patriotic messages contributed by 700 children of service men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Outside, the parking area will feature fire department and emergency medical service displays and be the site for the closing candlelight vigil and fly-over by a military jet.

The event will be meaningful whether you attend for several hours or just 30 minutes, said Kim Rozycki, director of events and marketing for the Cunningham Center.

Organizers also plan to transport MCSD high school sophomore history classes to the event, and family participation is encouraged as MCSD elementary schools had been previously scheduled to close at 1:30 p.m.

In conjunction with the activities at the Cunningham Center, CSU students will stage a brief, “CSU Remembers” vigil at the clock tower, starting at 11:55 a.m. and including a tolling of the tower bell at noon.

For more information about September 11 Remembrance Day, call the Cunningham Center at 706-568-5101.