UH to receive more than just an artifact from the World Trade Center
More than 12 years ago, children were pulled from school, teachers huddled together to whisper their concerns and parents cried for fear of the future on Sept. 11, 2001. No one can argue that this tragic event wasn’t life-changing. Years later, people continue to mourn their loved ones who died as a result of this incident.
The aftermath of the attack on the World Trade Center was tragic, but from this tragedy, people are attempting commemoration. According to thegospelcoalition.org, nearly 350,000 tons of steel from the World Trade Center are being memorialized across the nation. In addition, some of these pieces have been given to family members of individuals lost at the World Trade Center.
Understandably, most of these pieces of history were donated to people and places in the northeast section of the United States, but some fragments have been donated to other areas of the nation. Texas is among the states that have been privileged enough to receive pieces to memorialize this historic event.
Alpine, Texas is one of the cities to receive a piece of metal from the World Trade Center. In an article by newswest9.com, writer Nick Lawton speaks of Alpine showing respect.
“It stands as a symbol of America’s strength and a reminder to never forget,” Lawton said. “Hundreds who attended (the opening ceremony) passed by and touched the beam.”
Interestingly enough, UH will be the home of the second piece of the World Trade Center to be given to Texas.
With the opening of the New UC in January, the Reflection Garden is also being opened. The World Trade Center Reflection Garden will be a place where students can go to sit and relax, while also surrounding a memorial of a tragic day in America’s history. This piece of the World Trade Center will be placed at a tilt in the middle of the garden and will be surrounded by benches and greenery.
Keith Kowalka, assistant vice president of student affairs, explained the reason for a piece of the World Trade Center coming to the University.
Gaining this structure actually began four administrations ago, when the director of external affairs at UH learned that the Port of New Jersey was giving away pieces of the World Trade Center. UH had to request a piece from the New Jersey Bay Consultant and wait to be allowed to receive it, but once it was approved, UH had to pay only for shipping. While I am sure the shipping on a 3,700-pound structure is a little expensive, it is still a small price to gain a piece of the World Trade Center.
“I think it will be a nice place to think about where (people) were when the towers were attacked and think about how we as a society can grow and learn from it,” Kowalka said.
There will be a dedication to the garden on Jan. 22, for which the University ROTC’s Army and Air Force will be present. The University is hoping to bring in a speaker to talk about the significance of having this piece of structure on campus. UH is hoping that this garden can be used as a reflecting place for not only students on campus, but members of the Houston community.
“We often shy away from discussing issues of the day, and even though it was 12 years ago, every student, faculty and staff can relate on some level and talk about how it’d be better to have a more peaceful society,” Kowalka said.
I have to be honest — when I first discovered that UH was to receive a piece of the World Trade Center, I wondered if we were deserving of it. While that may sound odd, I was concerned as to whether this piece of history would be respected so far from where the tragedy happened. Also, I wondered if another place in Texas should have a piece of the World Trade Center, considering that most people in Texas were not as directly impacted as people from northern states.
Liberal studies junior Kate Rowland doesn’t believe that location should have an impact on whether UH should have a piece.
“I think it’s a nice tribute,” she said. “We are a really diverse campus, and the victims of 9/11 were diverse as well, and they were not all from New York City, so I don’t think it’s a problem.”
I took the time to look through the pictures of pieces of the World Trade Center scattered around the nation, and I was really moved. Seeing battered pieces of rubble arranged as a memorial has the potential to transport Americans back to Sept. 11, 2001. It sometimes seems easy to forget about the aftermath of tragedies if they aren’t staring you in the face; perhaps having a piece of the World Trade Center at UH will cause people to feel empathetic and blessed. After some consideration, I believe that UH is a good place to erect a piece of the World Trade Center. Having a fragment of history to remind us that pain is universal and has no prejudice might be exactly what our diverse campus needs.
Opinion columnist Kelly Schafler is a print journalism junior and may be reached at [email protected]