Remembering the heroes of 9/11

Dear campus community,

We have many heroes to celebrate in this day and age, including our firefighters, the healthcare workers in our community and our own campus essential employees who put themselves at risk each day to keep us all safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Nineteen years ago, a different kind of catastrophe befell our nation, one that similarly saw Americans rise to the occasion while under unimaginable duress. Today, we remember and reflect on the events of September 11, 2001, the heroic acts associated with that tragic day and the courage of those who perished.

The memory of 9/11 holds a special place in the hearts of the San José State community, as it was an SJSU alumnus, Captain Jason Dahl, ’80 Aeronautics Operations, who piloted United Flight 93. Captain Dahl and his crew, along with several passengers, bravely confronted the terrorists in a valiant attempt to re-take control of the aircraft. While Flight 93 ultimately crashed in western Pennsylvania, many more lives may have been lost if not for the heroic actions of Dahl and others on the aircraft.

Each September 11 at 10:14 a.m., the moment Flight 93 crashed in a Pennsylvania field, students, faculty and staff members in SJSU’s aviation and technology program take a moment to honor Captain Dahl and reflect on his bravery and life. He will never be forgotten by any of us at San José State.

Other Spartans involved in 9/11 also make us proud.

Meta Mereday, ’84 Advertising, was on business in New Jersey that day and went to Ground Zero to see if she could help. While the experience proved to be emotionally difficult, Meta channeled the trauma in a positive way by founding Veterans Entrepreneurial Development Initiatives, which supports veteran-owned businesses. As described in a recent profile on our Washington Square blog, Meta has continued to make positive contributions in ventures that explore the intersections of business and diverse communities. Much of her work can be traced back to that fateful 2001 day in Lower Manhattan and her urgent desire to help.

One of the most poignant remarks about 9/11 came from President Obama in a 2011 radio address. He offered a straightforward but concrete suggestion for how we can best remember those who were taken from us that day:

“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.” 

American flag waving in the wind