May 27, 2019  

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The catastrophic events of Sept. 11, 2001 changed us.

Because we had evolved into a global superpower with the most sophisticated weaponry and defense system known to mankind, the idea of being attacked by a foreign body on U.S. soil seemed far-fetched.

Surely, the concept of terrorists flying jetliners into skyscrapers had been discussed at the highest levels of national security. And most likely discounted as too elaborate, too complicated, too risky for any terrorist group to manage. We found out differently.

As the 10th anniversary of that fateful early autumn morning approaches, we should need no prodding to reflect on the atrocities that occurred that day. Thousands of people lost their lives when four U.S. commercial jets were hijacked and rerouted on suicide missions. The ripple effects of that merciless attack will prevail for generations to come.

Watching the twin towers of the esteemed World Trade Center crumble like a Jenga stack before our very eyes left painful scars on our souls. Make no mistake -- we have been changed in many tangible, and other less obvious, ways.

Last week I had the rare opportunity to see a key part of this nation’s history up-close when two pieces of steel from the twin towers arrived in Hattiesburg via tractor-trailer from New York City. The artifacts were secured by the city after two years of negotiations with the New York Port Authority.

On Sunday, Sept. 11 City of Hattiesburg and Southern Miss officials will mark the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks with a special ceremony at Reed Green Coliseum. At that time the steel beams will be officially transferred to the university. While you’re reflecting on the ultimate sacrifices made by so many on 9/11, keep in mind that thousands of U.S. servicemen and women have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan fighting to keep terrorism at bay.

Plans call for the precious artifacts to become part of a permanent memorial on the Southern Miss campus. What better material to have in our possession from the 9/11 tragedy than hardened steel – which perfectly symbolizes the resolve of the American people.