Remembering September 11, 2001

Dear San José State campus community,

On Sunday, many of us will participate in events that memorialize the events of September 11, 2001, and remember those who lost their lives that day. I hope you will join me as we pause to reflect on the victims, their families, friends and others whose lives were forever changed.

A lot of heroes emerged on 9/11. In fact, I learned recently that it was a Spartan alumnus, Captain Jason Dahl, ’80 Aeronautics Operations, who piloted United Flight 93. Captain Dahl, his crew and some passengers displayed profound courage by confronting the terrorists on their plane and trying their best to retake control of the aircraft. Even though the plane crashed in Pennsylvania, experts have always said that more lives would have been lost if not for the incredible efforts of Captain Dahl and the others.

The September 11th Memorial Tribute in Light 2014 New York City, by Anthony Quintano

Following the tragic and horrific fall of the Twin Towers, firefighters, paramedics and other first responders set an incredible standard for bravery, compassion and sacrifice. One of those individuals, SJSU Police Department Captain Frank Belcastro, was serving as a captain in the New York police department that day. He told his amazing story in a Q&A for our NewsCenter last year.

Other members of the San José State community were also involved in 9/11 or its aftermath. Karen Philbrick, a trained psychologist and executive director of our Mineta Transportation Institute, for example, volunteered with the Red Cross’ disaster relief organization to provide therapeutic services in New York, while Meta Mereday, ’84 Advertising, was in the region that day and rushed to Ground Zero to see if she could help. 

Spartans like Jason, Frank, Karen and Meta, and perhaps other members of the SJSU community whose 9/11 stories have yet to be told, were selfless and heroic in the face of extraordinarily difficult circumstances. I am proud of all of them for the example they set.

This Sunday, at 10:14 a.m. PST (or at 7:14 a.m. PST, the actual moment Flight 93 came down), I encourage members of our campus community to take a moment to honor Captain Dahl and reflect on his life and courageous acts that day. Please also think of the others I’ve mentioned, and reach out or thank them if and when you ever have an opportunity. 

And of course, we should always remember those whose lives were lost, and everyone who endured and survived the devastation. We must never forget them.

Steve Perez

Interim President