As one of the speakers, Dr. Laurie Carter had a front-row seat for one of this year’s 9/11 memorial ceremonies on the EKU campus. And that is exactly where she found herself in 2001 when terrorists guided two commercial airliners into the World Trade Center towers.
Carter, who at the time was working just a couple of miles north at the Lincoln Center, will never forget the sense of “panic” and “pure terror” she and her fellow New Yorkers experienced that morning. But she remembers just as vividly the positive, can-do spirit that enveloped the city in the days and months to come.
“Everywhere I looked there was an American flag,” recalled Carter, now executive vice president and University counsel at EKU. “The spirit of America was never stronger.”
The morning ceremony, which incorporated a moment of silence to correspond to the time the first tower was struck, also featured remarks from ROTC cadet and senior international business major David Prewitt, Richmond Mayor Jim Barnes and Dr. Bryan Cole, director of military and veterans affairs at Eastern.
Later in day, hundreds of first responders and members of the University community and public, many in full fire department or military attire, participated in stair climbs at Keene Hall that simulated (minus the danger) what first responders faced Sept. 11, 2001. A second memorial ceremony that evening at the EKU Center for the Arts featured Dennis Reilly, retired battalion chief from Cherry Hill, N.J., who served as a rescue squad officer at Ground Zero after the attacks.
Prewitt remembers the fateful day, as well, though he was in second grade at the time. He said he only came to understand later “what it meant to be an American. It’s an honor and privilege to be able to wear the uniform and be among the men and women who sacrificed and stepped up to the plate.”
Barnes said: “We are fortunate to live in a country where people have died to give us this freedom. Freedom is the most precious gift we have, and 9/11 just made us stronger.”
Cole noted how 14 years ago “our world changed in countless ways, and it’s still changing. Today is a day to recognize the quiet heroes in our presence.”
The day also included a blood drive, sponsored by the Office of Military and Veterans Affairs, in the Powell Student Center as part of the One Day Blood Drive Project. EKU is the only One Day Blood Drive Project site in Kentucky.