A flag for each of the 2,977 American lives lost in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attack highlights the lawn around the Welcome Center and Career Center at Indiana State University this week.
A bell tolled by firefighters and police officers on Wednesday morning also marked the terror-filled moments 18 years ago that would leave America forever changed.
ISU President Deborah Curtis was joined by Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett and representatives of area first responder agencies during the ceremony beginning at 8:46 a.m. and concluding with the final bell tolls at 10:28 a.m.
“We don’t take enough opportunities to thank first responders in any community in this country and we know it’s been a challenge in recent years about recognizing people for that work, so I’m just very grateful the city has come together,” Curtis said.
“It’s another example of the great collaboration we have between the university and the community to say, ‘Please, allow us to uplift you and say how grateful we are for what you do every day.’”
Terre Haute Fire Chief Jeff Fisher was the first to ring the same bell used during local fallen officer ceremonies.
The bell was first tolled at 8:46 a.m., the time American Airlines Flight 11 struck the World Trade Center North Tower.
ISU Assistant Police Chief Michele Barrett tolled the bell at 9:03 a.m., the time United Airlines Flight 175 struck the World Trade Center South Tower.
Chief Deputy Steve Meng of the Vigo County Sheriff’s Office tolled the bell at 9:37 a.m., the time American Airlines Flight 77 struck the Pentagon.
Terre Haute Police Officer Ryan Adamson tolled the bell at 9:59 a.m., the time World Trade Center South Tower collapsed.
Lt. Dan Jones, commander of Indiana State Police at Putnamville, tolled the bell a 10:03 a.m., the time United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.
West Terre Haute Police Chief Bill Bark tolled the bell at 10:28 a.m., the time World Trade Center North Tower collapsed.
“It’s a great honor to be asked to be part of this ceremony,” said Barrett, who was working in the detective’s division at THPD on 9/11.
“All of us were watching TV and wondering what was happening, and what was going to happen (and) what this meant to the world from here on out,” she said.
The ceremony was organized by Sgt. Jacquelyn Smith of ISU Police and Jennifer Christian of the ISU Center for Community Engagement at the request of ISU President Curtis.
“This is more of a history for the students,” Smith said of the ISU students who were very young when 9/11 occurred.
“As a first responder, our job is to run in, so by losing so many first responders that day, it is very emotional,” Smith said.
On Monday, volunteers from the ISU Career Center placed the flags in the grassy area near the campus welcome center. They will remove the display on Friday.
“We just wanted to do something that was simple but respectful, and to let the students know we will never forget all of the people who lost their lives on that day, “ Christian said. “We want to do something that was special, that people will remember, and that we can do year to year.”
Christian said she remembers being an ISU student 18 years ago, sitting in a class in the science building, when she learned of the attack.
“It was very somber. For me specifically. I was terrified, because both my parents worked for the government and I had an irrational fear that something was going to happen to them,” Christian said.
At the time, her mother and grandmother had just flown back from Washington D.C. the day before the attacks, she said.
Christian also recalled campus being very quiet and somber the rest of the day with some students gathering in the residence halls to talk.
“I think mostly, it was disbelief. People were like, is this really real?” she said.
Officer Adamson said he thinks remembering the families of the victims is important, in addition to remembering the Americans who died that day.
“And I think people should know the Terre Haute Police Department realizes we still have women and men fighting overseas as a result of this action,” Adamson said. “We remember them as a department, we pray for them, and we pray for their families as well.”
On his way to Wednesday’s ceremony, Lt. Jones said, he was listening to the radio and heard a tribute song written by country musician Alan Jackson the evening of 9/11.
“That just kind of brought it home, a little closer this morning,” Jones said.
A veteran, Jones said he had been a state trooper for about a dozen years when the attacks occurred.
Jones said his 12-year-old son, Bryan, wanted to join the Marines that day, but he had to wait until he was 18.
“It was a terrible moment in history, but many Americans became proud to be Americans at that time, and that was the only good thing that came out of it,” Jones said.
West Terre Haute Police Chief Bill Bark is the only current member of his small police department who was a police officer 18 years ago, but he remembers the day like it was yesterday.
“I think what people are forgetting is not just people from New York City, not just people from Somerset County, Pennsylvania, not just people from Washington, D.C., were affected by this 18 years ago,” he said.
“The whole country was affected.”
Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at TribStarLisa.