By Robyn Sanders
Three-hundred seventy two foreign nationals, 246 victims on four planes, 2,606 casualties in the North and South towers and on the ground, and 125 at the Pentagon. These are the casualties of Sept. 11 that will never be forgotten, and Friday’s “Tribute to Fallen Heroes” honored everyone of them.
The event, which took place Sunday at 3 p.m. served as a time of remembrance of the attacks and soldiers who have given their lives in the line of duty, as well as a celebration of military veterans and active-duty personnel. The Lost Heroes Art Quilt, which had been displayed in Moody Library was also featured at the event.
Baylor was the quilt’s last stop before being put on permanent display at the Arlington National Cemetery visitor’s center in Washington D.C.
Gold Star Mother Nancy Hecker, who came to Baylor accompanying the quilt, said she was very appreciative of the quilt’s positive reception.
“I thought it was wonderful,” Hecker said. “I love the idea that the quilt was a catalyst for community outreach to the Fort Hood community, to the military community, to gold star families, to blue star families.”
Gold star families have lost a member in military service, and blue star families currently have a member in service.
Speakers at the tribute included Baylor President Ken Starr, Texas Sen. Brian Birdwell, Brig. Gen. Bill Webber, Brig. Gen. Joseph DiSalvo and Waco Mayor Jim Bush.
Birdwell, who was wounded in the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, honored current and former service men and women in his speech, commending their willingness to serve despite the dangers they would face.
“It isn’t whether or not you got a purple heart or not in service to the nation, it’s that you were willing to earn one by putting on the uniform of this nation,” Birdwell said. “We have young men and women as these around us… that are prepared to make that ultimate sacrifice because they love this nation’s freedoms far more than our enemies love death.”
DiSalvo, III Corps deputy commanding general at Fort Hood, said in his address that he tells the families of fallen heroes that their loved one’s sacrifice was not in vain.
“Their loved ones did have a positive impact on our mission, and on people starving for freedom and a better way of life and a promising future,” DiSalvo said. “And most importantly, they left a legacy of courage, patriotism and honor that will continuously inspire current and future generations.”
During the reception that followed the tribute, Starr said he was honored Baylor was the quilt’s last stop before heading to Arlington National Cemetery.
“It’s a great tribute to the men and women in uniform who over the generations have served from Baylor, and it’s also a great tribute to our ROTC units. We’re very proud of them,” Starr said. “So we’re just thankful that the entire community, the mayor, the wonderful colleagues from Fort Hood, have all come together to honor these risen warriors.”
Anne Grinnols, assistant dean for faculty development and college initiatives, said the tribute and the displays in the library have been a reminder for her of the events of Sept. 11.
“I’m really glad that Baylor did this because it’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day and forget,” Grinnols said. “I walk through the library on the way to teach … and I see the display there and it reminds me. We’re human, and we need these reminders.”
Retired Lt. Col. Matt Pirko said the event was a great way to recognize veterans and those at Baylor who serve, and to bring the community together.
“The fact that they honored veterans and they honored service today in such a visual and specific way really is a fantastic thing,” Pirko said. “I think the combination of the military, the community, the veterans, all those different groups, really brought it home that this is truly a community effort, and that Baylor is supportive of all those things.”