On Sept. 11, 2001, 2,977 innocent people died in the largest terrorist attack on U.S soil; fifteen years later, Cal State Long Beach students, faculty, and staff gathered to honor the lives lost in the aftermath.
CSULB’s 9/11 Remembrance Day, held Friday on the University Student Union’s north lawn, was a day for prayer and reflection.
At the event, there was a student performance of the “Star Spangled Banner” and “Taps” – a song traditionally performed at military funerals.
In the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the U.S. embarked on a “war on terror,” prompting many men and women to join the armed forces.
Veterans and current CSULB students Gus Orozco and Mark Guest were two of Friday’s speakers who spoke about that infamous day and why they, along with 3.16 million others, decided to join the military in order to fight and eradicate Al-Qaeda, the organization responsible for the attacks
“I was a sophomore in high school when this event took place, but it would forever shape my life after that,” Orozco said. “It’s the very reason why I joined the armed forces.”
Orozco was deployed to Iraq in 2007 and spent 15 months there. In total, he spent 11 years in the military.
“When I enrolled in the military, I knew with certainty that I would be deployed,” Orozco said. “Today I am grateful to be one of the few that did make it home.”
At the edge of the lawn, four large whiteboards were set up for attendees to express their gratitude to the armed forces and first responders and write words of remembrance to the victims of the attacks and their families.
Jordan Daniels, a senior public relations major, shared his personal account of Sept. 11 and how it affected him.
“I was in 4th grade, in the middle of class and my teacher received a phone call from his family, who I believe was affected by the attack. He was in silence for about 10 minutes and I remember him tearing up before calling the principal to let her know he needed to go,” he said. “When my mom picked me up I remember she was upset… I didn’t understand why someone would want to attack us.”
Daniels recalled his dad comforting his mother and he as they watched the news that night. For him, it was a day that would be vividly engrained in his memory.
“It was also a day that I learned what terrorism was and the idea that there is someone out there who wants to hurt you for simply being who you are,” Daniels said.
Aside from the Remembrance Day at CSULB, various 9/11 memorials were held throughout Long Beach over the weekend.
On Sunday, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia held a moment of silence at 9:11 a.m. while Fire Chief Mike DuRee and Police Chief Robert Luna laid a memorial wreath in front of the Belmont Shore fire station 8.
Michaela Kwoka-Coleman contributed to this story.