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Patriot Day - 20th Anniversary of "9/11"

Sep 10, 2021

Twenty years is a long time and yet, at least for some of us, the events of September 11, 2001 seem only yesterday.

I suppose this is natural. There are major events that are etched, along with personal experiences, in individual memory but at the same time, woven into the tapestry that comprises our collective history. In my own lifetime: some such events made us proud - the whole of the civil rights movement, the moon landing, the Nation's bicentennial, the 1980 Olympic Hockey Team victory, the fall of the Berlin Wall, our swift victory in Desert Storm; others horrified us - the construction of the Berlin Wall, the Cuban missile crisis and the specter of the Cold War, the Kennedys and King assassinations, the fall of Saigon, the Iran hostage crisis and failed rescue attempt, the loss of the Challenger and Columbia shuttles, numerous devastating natural disasters ... to name but a few. "9/11" is chief among these for many of us, but it is humbling to acknowledge that many of our students, and indeed some of our employees, weren't even born then. Even so, they were born in to a world forever changed by those events.

As you know, on September 11, 2001, we suffered the worst attack on U.S. soil in our Nation's history. While the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 resulted in roughly the same number of deaths, there were only 68 civilians among the 2,403 Americans killed in the assault on our military forces in Hawaii; another 1,143 were wounded, including 35 civilians. In 2001, we suffered the deadliest terrorist attack in all of world history. In all, 2,977 people were killed and more than 6,000 injured; among those killed were 2,562 innocent civilians, 344 firefighters and 71 law enforcement. In the days and weeks that followed we witnessed, over and over again, the terrifying images of death and destruction; and we learned humbling stories of sacrifice and heroism. There were 2,562 lives abruptly ended by a heinous act of terrorism.

We vowed we would never forget ...

easier said than done.

The primary actors having died with their attacks, we declared war on those who planned and supported this terrorism. Millions of Americans answered the call to serve; swift victories in Afghanistan and Iraq gave way to protracted, bloody and controversial occupations. Over 7,000 U.S. service members were killed in action and over 50,000 wounded. Estimates range in the hundreds of thousands of combatants and civilian casualties in Afghanistan, Iraq and other theaters with hundreds of thousands more displaced. In many respects, the "War on Terror" defined the generation that we serve today.

At its meeting on September 7th, the SCCCD Governing Board adopted this resolution honoring and remembering the events of September 11, 2001 and encouraging all of us to remember them as well. Some of our colleges are holding Patriot Day remembrances tomorrow, September 10th; I certainly encourage you to attend. Wherever you are on Saturday, September 11th, I entreat you to take time to reflect, to remember, to honor those whose lives were cut short twenty years ago.

Let us never forget

Thank you.


Douglas B. Houston, Ed.D.
Interim Chancellor
State Center Community College District
(559) 243-7101!