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MVNU, community challenged to never forget 9/11 or patriotism that followed

MOUNT VERNON, Ohio — Mount Vernon Nazarene University students, and Knox County residents, were called to vow to never forget the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and the unifying patriotism that swelled across America in the days that followed, during the “9/11 Never Forget … 20 years later,” program in Ariel Arena, Saturday, Sept. 11.

The program marked the 20th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, the U.S. Pentagon and Flight 93, and honored first responders, military veterans, and an MVNU alumna who died at the Pentagon.

The loss of Molly McKenzie (’85), a civilian budget analyst for the U.S. Army, was recognized as an American flag was presented to her siblings, Sally Wetzel and Kenny Hornberger, by the Knox County Joint Veterans Council and MVNU President Dr. Henry W. Spaulding II.

“May I encourage everyone to face the storms of life, knowing we have a God who loves and cares about what we face. He is right there in the boat with us, riding out the storms with us. He promises to never leave us, ever,” said Wetzel, as read by Paul McNeal, MVNU Coordinator of Athletic Department Development.

Spaulding expressed gratitude for the opportunity to reflect on the tragedy and the role of our faith in overcoming what feels like insurmountable obstacles.

“Today is a day that we pause to remember,” said Spaulding. “The thing that matters most today is that we understand, at this place, we face those memories and those challenges, and all that came after, as a community of faith. We believe that as we build our lives in faith, we are better able to triumph over evil when it rears its ugly head in our presence.”

Keynote speaker for the event, Chris Edwards, retired New York City firefighter and survivor of 9/11, shared many painful stories of his own experiences as well as the sacrifices of his brothers and sisters in the fire department. He also spoke of acts of heroism and hope witnessed throughout NYC.

“It’s not just a day in some people’s lives,” Edwards said. “It’s a day that will never ever end for the New York City Fire Department. It’s a wound that will never ever heal. Not one day goes by that I don’t think of them.

“Sacrifices that so many people made that day changed our country forever. Changed our country forever. Sacrifices that firefighters, police officers, civilians made — they ran into the building to save people who might not even like them. They never looked at the color of a person’s skin, they never asked what are your political views, they never asked what their religion was. They ran into the building, and the majority of them knew they were never coming back. To me, that’s something that changed our world. I don’t want my friends to have died in vain. I want everybody to remember.”

While Edwards challenged those in attendance to never forget 9/11, his deepest plea was to never forget 9/12 and those who have served in our military as they are the true heroes in the history of our country.

“Sept 12 was the greatest day you could ever image. NYC was the greatest place to be because we all came together as one,” he said.

The program also included:

•Jaidyn Hawkins, a student at East Knox Middle School, singing the national anthem;

•Knox County Career Center Air Force JROTC Color Guard;

•MVNU Collegians Chorale performance of Peter Lutkin’s “The Lord Bless You and Keep You,” under the direction of Dr. Bob Tocheff; and

•A 21-gun salute and taps by the Knox County Joint Veterans Council.

The program was sponsored by Elite Preparedness and organized by Dena Hess McKinstry, McNeal, and Mount Vernon Mayor Matt Starr.

The program is available to watch at in the “On Demand” section.

Mount Vernon Nazarene University is a private, four-year, intentionally Christian teaching university for traditional age students, graduate students, and working adults. With a 327-acre main campus in Mount Vernon, Ohio, MVNU emphasizes academic excellence, spiritual growth, and service to community and church. MVNU offers an affordable education both in-seat and online to more than 2,100 students from 42 states and nine foreign countries.