Old Main Flags

A student takes photos of the flags on Old Main Lawn in remembrance of the lives lost to the 9/11 terror attacks on Wednesday, September 11, 2019.

Though it has been 18 years since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, members of the Penn State community still urge others not to forget.

Since many immediately think of the attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, it is easy to overlook Flight 93.

On that day nearly two decades ago, Flight 93 was headed from Newark, New Jersey to San Francisco, California when the plane was hijacked by four men at approximately 9:28 a.m. At 10:03 a.m., the plane crashed into a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, killing everyone on board.

Max Myers, president of the College Republicans, remembers that emotion-filled day in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Myers (senior-economics and political science) grew up in Somerset County and spent his summers mowing lawns in Shanksville.

Growing up in a small town in Pennsylvania, Myers never believed the place he called home would be impacted by a terrorist attack.

For many across the country, it was the first day of school. The sky was painted baby blue as summer drew to an end. However, the first day of school was abruptly cut short for many as American people were brought to their knees.

Myers recalls picking up his older brother from kindergarten then going to the crash site.

“I remember going there not too long after, pieces of the plane everywhere,” Myers said, “The county coroner was my track coach growing up and he identified all of the bodies. It's a little bit surreal going to a Smithsonian-level Museum.”

Old Main Flags

Flags litter Old Main Lawn in remembrance of the lives lost to the 9/11 terror attacks on Wednesday, September 11, 2019.

“A town like Somerset, we never thought that would be attacked by terrorists,” he said.

Within hours of the devastating crash, reporters and volunteers alike gathered at the destruction of Flight 93.

“There were people from the town, reporters... showing up, asking to help asking to volunteer. A makeshift memorial was set up within five or six hours of the crash, bringing out stuffed animals, food and drinks for the first responders,” Myers said.

Despite the death and destruction, Myers tries to find hope in a time of despair and urges people to remember those who have perished.

“I like to look at the silver linings of it as with all that tragedy, it really brought my hometown together as a community,” Myers said. “I think it's really important to remember [9/11] especially in today's politics, and the way that we handle foreign policy and national pride...and what could happen when things go wrong and you know, things of that nature.”

As president of College Republicans, Myers added he wants to keep the memory of 9/11 alive.

In a similar sentiment, Skyler Dixon, a member of Students Supporting Israel, also implored others to remember the events of Sept. 11.

Students Supporting Israel hosted an event outside the HUB-Robeson Center to commemorate 9/11. Students were invited to place American flags in cups full of sand.

“We ask them if they would like to place a flag in the cup in solidarity with 9/11,” Dixon (senior -biobehavioral health) said.

Dixon also noted that apart from the flags placed on Old Main, there was no real ceremony held at Penn State in memory of 9/11.

“I think it's important because I haven't seen anyone else do like any kind of thing today for 9/11,” Dixon said.

Old Main Flags

Flags litter Old Main Lawn in remembrance of the lives lost to the 9/11 terror attacks on Wednesday, September 11, 2019.

Sean Semanko, president of the Penn State chapter of Turning Point USA, noted how 9/11 has shaped the worldview of an entire generation and changed the country forever.

“That was a pretty dramatic event for our country to have lost thousands of innocent lives and great first responders,” Semanko (senior - advertising) said. “It's obviously shaped like our whole world, everything is changed because of it. You know, I mean, a small example that you can't go to an airport the same way you can travel the same way.”

Like Myers and Dixon, Semanko also believes it is imperative that America does not forget Sept. 11.

“We should never forget it because obviously, so many innocent people died of something that obviously should never have happened,” Semanko said. “There are times when, unfortunately, we have to fight back, but hopefully it's never happens again.”

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