Lion Latenight hosts 9/11 remembrance event

By Morgan Lubner                                                                                             Correspondent

Fourteen years after the attacks that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001 shocked our nation, Lion Latenight along with TCNJ EMS, the American Veterans Club and the Brower Student Center Staff, held a remembrance event in honor of the lives lost.

Students meet in the Lion’s Den, gathering in remembrance.
Students meet in the Lion’s Den, gathering in remembrance of 9/11.

“It’s our responsibility to say ‘We lived through this’… it needs to be observed with the reverence it deserves,” senior Spanish and secondary education double major Zachary Dzierzgowski said.

Dzierzgowski, the undergraduate program manager for the Brower Student Center, was the driving force behind the event.

The event began with the national anthem and a slideshow created by Dzierzgowski that reflected on the events of 9/11. The first slide emblazoned with #TCNJremembers only added to the evident patriotism students felt as they remembered the events 14 years later.

Following the slideshow, sophomore biology major Anil Salem, president of the American Veterans Club at the College, spoke about his connection to 9/11.

His father was in the World Trade Center during the bombings of 1993. Luckily, he was on the 73rd floor and was not physically harmed by the event. Years later, Salem’s father was working and happened to be in New York City when the second plane hit the second tower in 2001. Even though he was young when 9/11 took place, Salem said, “I still remember my mom and I were watching the news and we were really concerned, you know, is Dad coming home?”

Salem’s father did come home by 8 p.m. that night, but many other families were not so fortunate. Salem felt very strongly about the people who helped out during the attacks in Manhattan, so he formed the American Veterans Club last semester.

“So many people, especially the EMTs and a lot of the law enforcement, really helped out on 9/11 and without them, a lot more lives could’ve been lost,” Salem said. “It’s sad that a lot of universities and colleges don’t have veterans organizations on campus, and it’s very disturbing because the veterans do so much for us and we could give back to them.”

The club’s first meeting is on Wednesday, Sept. 23.

Senior nursing major Emma Schneider, training captain of TCNJ EMS, spoke after Salem. Schneider told the audience about her involvement in fire departments and Lions EMS, now TCNJ EMS. She explained how brotherhood within the forces, no matter if you knew them or not, was always a big point made to her throughout all of her endeavors, and that those lost on 9/11 were no exception to that.

“The exact number of those who actually responded won’t ever be known, but what is known is that they are heroes,” she said, “and those who were killed on 9/11, they were heroes, too, and they still are.”

The event closed with some final words from Dzierzgowski.

“If you think about horrific things that have happened, like the Titanic sinking or Pearl Harbor or any other great hardship or loss that transpired during that event, the fact that we do remember and talk about these moments ensures that these victims can never truly be forgotten and fade into history.”

After his words, a moment of silence ensued, followed by the playing of “God Bless America.”

As Lion Latenight also partnered with “Operation Gratitude,” during the entire event, students could write letters to the troops and also donate items to send overseas.

Karissa Czepiga, the assistant manager at the Student Center, captured why we need to have 9/11 memorial events like this, even now, years later.

“9/11, out of tragedy, taught us how strong of a nation we are,” she said. “It was a test of resiliency, but showed us that even under hard times, we bounce back.”