Kennesaw State ceremony marks 20th anniversary of Sept. 11 terrorist attacks


KENNESAW, Ga. (Sep 10, 2021) — At a ceremony of remembrance on Friday on the Kennesaw State University campus, retired FBI agent Gina Young said she knows many who heard her harrowing story of working at the site of the World Trade Center and seeing the twin towers fall on Sept. 11, 2001, cannot remember it. They weren’t born yet.

9-11 Remembrance
Gina Young, left, and Kat Schwaig
But she said she hopes the young KSU students have learned lessons from the terrorist attacks that may seem to them like long ago history.

“I hope my story says to them to appreciate everyone, work with everyone and remember we’re all one people,” Young said following her remarks to an audience of more than 200. “Don’t hate, don’t exclude or disregard people. Do better.”

Young was the keynote speaker at Kennesaw State’s 20th anniversary 9-11 Remembrance ceremony for students, faculty, staff and special guests from local and state public safety agencies, as well as military leaders.

In welcoming remarks, interim President Kathy Schwaig thanked the first responders and veterans for their service and noted the solemn reason for the gathering.

“We don’t forget the emotions of that day – shock, disbelief, fear and anger, as well as a profound sense of loss for those who were killed,” Schwaig said. The attacks also brought citizens together, with a sense of patriotism and unity, she recalled.

“There were large numbers of everyday citizens asking questions like ‘What can I do to help my neighbor?’ ‘What can I do to help those who are hurting?’ ‘What can I do to help our nation?’” Schwaig said.

9-11 RemembranceOn Sept. 11, 2001, nearly 2,800 people were killed in terror attacks involving hijacked commercial airliners crashed into both World Trade Center buildings in New York, into the Pentagon, and in the countryside outside Pittsburgh when passengers fought back against the hijackers.

Among those attending the ceremony were many students who have no memory of the 9-11 attacks.

“I know the facts of it, like what happened and when. Every year, I try to learn more about it,” said Larson Covington, a senior marketing major. “It’s mentioned a little bit in textbooks, but I’ve learned more on the anniversaries every year from articles and documentaries.”

Patrick Wheeler, 19, a freshman from Roswell said he remembers first becoming aware of the events of 9-11 when he was in elementary school and the man who masterminded the attacks, Osama bin Laden, was killed in Pakistan in a raid by U.S. Navy Seals.

Freshman Jordan Winfrey said he doesn’t remember the attacks but has learned a lot about them.

9-11 Remembrance“I know when each plane hit each target exactly, I know how the attacks happened and I know the timelines from start to finish. Over the years, I’ve watched documentaries and read articles, so I know all the details. It’s the most fascinating event I’ve ever encountered,” Winfrey said. “Watching the video of the attacks is so emotional for me, but then I think about how people put aside their differences and came together after a tragedy in a positive way. That’s what I want people to remember.”

Kennesaw State is continuing 9-11 observations with a concert at 8 p.m. Saturday at Morgan Hall in the Bailey Performance Center on the Kennesaw Campus, 1000 Chastain Road, Kennesaw. The concert features the Kennesaw State Chamber Singers, Symphony Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, and a solo performance of “Amazing Grace” by internationally known violinist and KSU music professor Helen Kim.

– Gary Tanner and Dave Shelles

Photos by David Caselli

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit