On Wednesday, the National Pan-Hellenic Council and National Center for Spectator Sports and Safety held a 9/11 program to commemorate those who lost their lives 12 years ago in the terrorist attacks in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania.
The event started with a rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” and a prayer led by Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. President Donald Holmes. Retired Col. Sheila Varnado then spoke to the audience about what happened on that historical day and how it affected her personally.
“Sept. 11 changed my life, and the lives of all military personnel serving on active duty that day,” she said.
Varnado, who was at a meeting in Saudi Arabia when the attack happened, described watching the footage on television as “one of the most surreal moments I had experienced in my life up to that point.”
The program brought back memories not only for Varnado, but others as well. “It was just devastating, watching what was going on in New York,” said Hattiesburg resident Shirley Glaab.
The event also honored the men and women who died in the attacks, as well as the people who assisted in helping the victims’ families. “This is for those who still keep the memory alive of those who made a difference in our nation,” said Lt. Col. Frederick Eugene Varnado.
Varnado also discussed the heroic acts of the passengers and crew aboard United Airlines Flight 93. Varnado referred to them as heroes who potentially saved other lives.
After Varnado’s speech, the audience watched a video documenting many of America’s greatest tragedies and showing how the country has managed to get through them.
To mark the end of the program, guests were invited to see 111-pound piece of steel that came from the World Trade Center.
The piece of steel was donated by the city of Hattiesburg and the donation was made official at Wednesday’s ceremony.
It will be permanently stored on the second floor of The Trent Lott Center.