SUU’s Veterans Center Honors Fallen Heroes for 20th Anniversary of 9/11 Attacks

On Sept. 10, Southern Utah University’s Veterans Resource and Support Center paid homage to the fallen heroes of 9/11 on the Library Quad. SUU Aviation honored the commemoration by flying 13 aircraft, symbolizing the 13 service members killed in Kabul, Afghanistan earlier this month. 

John Hohman, a United States Marine Corps Veteran, opened the event by introducing Kai Shull, the SUU Student Veterans of America Club President, who retold the history of 9/11. Following Shull, three members from the Cedar City community spoke on their personal military service during the time of the attack. 

Erik Shellgreen, a retired Navy Commander, began by speaking on his experience in the United States Navy, including his involvement supporting troops on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq. He spoke in remembrance of the fatal terrorist attack by Al-Qaeda that killed 3,000 people.

“It would have been all too easy that day and in the long years that followed on the war in terrorism to blame a specific religion, nationality, or culture, but we did not.” Shellgreen said. “We chose instead to wage war on those who threatened our way of life, regardless of their culture or religion.”

Shellgreen then addressed the veterans in the audience. He emphasized that their efforts were not in vain because other terrorist attacks were prevented, future terrorist groups were disrupted, and opportunities were provided to the people of Afghanistan. 

Following Shellgreen, Cedar City Fire Chief Mike Philips shared his experience of 9/11.

“Tuesday September 11, 2001 started out like any regular day, but would not stay that way,” Philips said. “Soon it would be indelibly etched into my memory of a day that I would never forget.”

Philips recounted the events of the attack and recalled watching the second plane hit the World Trade Center on the news. Directly after the hit, Philips rushed to the Cedar City Airport to ground all flights and continue listening to the news on a portable radio.

“I think of those firefighters who, 20 years ago, climbed 110 flights of stairs wearing 45 pounds of gear,” Philips said. “I ponder on the 343 firefighters who made the ultimate sacrifice that day.”

Iron County Sheriff Ken Carpenter then gave his remarks in commemoration of the attack. Audience members listened as he retold the stories of several heroic individuals, closing with the story of 6 seconds when two marines stopped a suicide bomber. 

The commemoration closed with a moment of silence for the fallen heroes, accompanied by Joseph Gudmundson playing “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes.


Story and Photo by Danielle Meuret