Remembering 9/11

Dear campus community,

Today is a day when we pause to reflect on the terrible events of September 11, 2001. While tragic and devastating for so many of us, it also is a time to pay tribute to the heroes and first responders who displayed such courage and grit in the face of terror and anguish.

Many of you may know that it was an SJSU alum—Captain Jason Dahl, ’80 Aeronautics Operations—who piloted United Flight 93. Captain Dahl, his crew members and several passengers courageously attempted to regain control of the aircraft from the terrorists. While the plane ultimately crashed in western Pennsylvania, the bravery of Captain Dahl and the others very likely saved many lives. He and his fellow heroes did not perish in vain.

In honor of Captain Dahl, SJSU’s aviation program faculty, students and staff pause each year on this day to remember his heroism, bravery and life. Captain Dahl will never be forgotten by those of us here at San Jose State.

Our country came together that day, and during the weeks and months that followed, in a way we rarely see. United by grief, we leaned on one another to manage the sadness and myriad emotions.

In one of his works, Devotions upon Emergent Occasions, the poet John Donne wrote, “No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main.” This rings true when I think about our nation in the aftermath of 9/11.

It may be difficult sometimes to know how appropriately to honor those impacted by 9/11 and similarly devastating events. President Obama, in a 2011 radio address, offered a simple but tangible suggestion for how we can best remember those who were lost:

Even the smallest act of service, the simplest act of kindness, is a way to honor those we lost, a way to reclaim that spirit of unity that followed 9/11.”

Dr. Mary A. Papazian