Never Forget | Beaufort County Now | Campus to commemorate the 20th anniversary of 9/11

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Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of ECU News Services. The author of this post is Crystal Baity.

Several exhibits commemorating the 20th anniversary of 9/11 are featured in Joyner Library. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

    ECU's Never Forget: 20 Years Later 9/11 Commemoration Committee has partnered with multiple campus departments and organizations to plan a variety of programs related to the 20th anniversary of 9/11. See a full calendar of events here.

    A series of events - from exhibits and a climb with local first responders to a memorial dedication and student day of service - will mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11 at East Carolina University.

    The Never Forget: 20 Years Later 9/11 Commemoration Committee, a partnership of multiple departments and organizations at ECU, planned a variety of programs that start this week. The main event will be a remembrance ceremony and dedication for a permanent memorial on the lawn at the Main Campus Student Center at 9 a.m. on Sept. 11. The campus and Greenville communities are encouraged to attend.

    "The days and weeks after 9/11 were some of the most patriotic and unified memories that I have of this nation and our people," said Alex Dennis, chair of the committee and assistant director of the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement. "We came together to mourn, to heal and to move forward. It doesn't have to take a tragedy to unite us. Now, more than ever, we need to remember what it means to be an American, and regardless of our differences we need to come together to heal and to move forward."

    Exhibits in Joyner Library and the Main Campus Student Center will take viewers back to the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks in New York, the District of Columbia and Pennsylvania - and the impact they had on ECU students.

    The exhibits highlight an assignment by history professor Karin Zipf, who gave her students a reflective essay prompt 24 hours after the 9/11 attacks. Many wrote freehand on notebook paper about where they were, what they were doing and how they felt, providing a powerful account of the tragedy. The essays are part of Joyner Library's digital collection.

    Bryan Keith Barrett, a senior majoring in art with a concentration in graphic design, curated "Memoirs to America" opening Friday in the Main Campus Student Center. He used big, bold typography to showcase the words of the essays on six large-format posters.

    Barrett was a toddler on 9/11 but remembers his mother picking him up early from his babysitter. They had trouble reaching his father, whose wife at the time worked at the Pentagon, which was struck by one of the hijacked planes.

    Barrett's family was safe, and his personal tie to 9/11 made him want to be part of the project at ECU. "My hope for this exhibit is to honor the students that wrote these essays and the many people who lost their lives that day," Barrett said.

    University archivist Alston Cobourn curated three exhibits in Joyner Library, including an interactive magnet wall where participants are invited to add messages of hope and unity to the space.

    The exhibits, "September 11, 2001: The Day That Changed the World," which is sponsored by Friends of Joyner Library, "Campus Reactions and Responses to 9/11," and "Messages of Unity: An Interactive Exhibition Promoting Peace & Solidarity," are on the library's first floor.

    "During our discussions, we recognized that many of our current students have no personal recollection of the events of 9/11," said Heather White, Joyner Library's assistant director of assessment and engagement and a member of the commemoration committee. "We hope that these exhibitions will not only serve as educational tools for people who do have not have personal memories of the event and its aftermath, but also provide context for those who lived the experience to remember and reflect on this historic day in American history."

    The exhibits document campus media coverage from the time period, explore the consequences of terrorism on individual lives and communities at the local, national and international level, and encourage critical thinking about the legacy of 9/11.

    "The exhibits also go further to highlight the tremendous spirit of resilience, compassion and service that arose after the attacks," White said. "Ultimately, we hope patrons will be inspired to honor the legacy of 9/11 through volunteerism and acts of kindness in their own communities."

    On Sept. 10, students will volunteer at nine community organizations in an annual day of service. While ECU offers four service days each year, "the 9/11 day of service is unique in that it is done in remembrance of the brave first responders who served their city and our nation on that day 20 years ago," Dennis said. "We honor their selflessness by serving our communities."

    The campus mall also will be blanketed with an American flag memorial on Sept. 10. Other planned events include a climb with first responders and trauma-informed yoga in both student centers; an interactive workshop led by faculty in political science and history; a special Cupola Conversation; documentary film screening; and a guest lecture from a former FBI agent.

    For more information, visit
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