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Liberty commemorates 20th anniversary of 9/11 terrorist attacks, honors lives lost

Speaking in front of a videoboard image taken in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001, Liberty University Campus Pastor Jonathan Falwell addresses the students assembled in Williams Stadium for a Convocation 9/11 commemoration on Friday. (Photo by KJ Jugar)

Liberty University devoted part of Friday morning’s Convocation to prayer and reflection as students paid tribute to those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001, and to those who died from the effects of the tragedy in the years to follow.

Though the attacks occurred before many current students were even born, the event affected their lives immeasurably.

“Twenty years ago was a day that shook this nation, that changed everything, that changed the trajectory of our nation for the many years to come, right up to this present day,” Liberty Campus Pastor Jonathan Falwell told the students assembled at Williams Stadium. “Not only did we lose 3,000 Americans that day, we have lost many since then through the conflicts that began that day.”

While remembering the fallen, including the 13 United States military members killed in the Aug. 26 Taliban attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Falwell also honored the first responders who have sacrificed and dedicated their lives in service.

“We also recognize that there were a lot of heroes, a lot of people that maybe we didn’t know, that Americans did not know, police officers and members of the NYPD and the NYFD and the Pentagon officials that responded,” he said.

Falwell introduces Liberty University Police Department Cpl. Jerry Sheridan, who served in the NYPD during the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City. (Photo by KJ Jugar)

He introduced one of them, Liberty University Police Department (LUPD) Cpl. Jerry Sheridan, a retired NYPD officer who shared his memories from Ground Zero after serving in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

“Jerry had the privilege, but also the very difficult task and duty of showing up every single day, knowing that in that rubble where (he) served, there were men and women who valiantly walked into that building when everyone was running out, that went in to help and to minister and to help save as many lives as possible,” Falwell said. “He had the opportunity in the months to follow of continuing to honor their sacrifice and honor their willingness to give their own lives to protect our nation.”

Charles Billingsley performed ‘Taps’ during Friday’s 9/11 Convocation at Williams Stadium. (Photo by Andrew Snyder)

Sheridan noted that 23 NYPD officers were killed in action that day and a total of 275 more have since died from exposure to the dust at Ground Zero, with countless other first responders left with physical ailments.

He offered a prayer for those killed as well as survivors and their families and current and future first responders serving on the front lines.

“As Your Word says, ‘No greater love hath this, than a man lay down his life for his friend,’” Sheridan prayed. “I ask You to help this country to never forget those who sacrificed so much that day. I ask You to comfort the families of those left behind.”

Students then observed a moment of silence in honor of those who lost their lives on 9/11.  Thomas Road Baptist Church teaching pastor Charles Billingsley, played “Taps” by trumpet and sang “God Bless America.”

Liberty will continue to commemorate Saturday’s 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on America with displays on campus.

As it has for the past seven years, including in this 2018 file image, Liberty’s chapter of Young Americans for Freedom will plant 2,977 flags in the Academic Lawn tonight in honor of those lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001. (Photo by Jessie Rogers)

The Freedom Tower will be lit in red, white, and blue on Saturday night. On Friday evening, for the eighth year in a row as part of the Never Forget Project, members of Liberty’s chapter of Young Americans for Freedom will be placing 2,977 flags on the Academic Lawn, which will serve as the site of a prayer vigil. Each flag will honor a victim of the 9/11 attacks at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and aboard United Airlines Flight 93. Students are encouraged to stop by throughout the day on Saturday to pray around the flags and post written prayers to a wooden cross.

Liberty’s Standing For Freedom Center will also recognize the anniversary by posting videos and stories commemorating 9/11 to its website and social media platforms.

>> Watch the Convocation tribute on Liberty University’s YouTube channel.