EDMOND, Okla. — As Oklahomans remember the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, one university is taking a unique approach to remember the lives lost that day.
The University of Central Oklahoma’s Volunteer and Service Learning Center in Edmond, Okla. commemorated the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks at the Blue Tent at Broncho Lake Thursday morning.
Retired Army Staff Sgt. Rusty Dunagan, a Guthrie, Okla. native, joined the Army in 2006 and was one of the featured speakers.
"September 11, 2001 forever changed our world," said retired Army Staff Sgt. Rusty Dunagan.
He was deployed twice, first to Iraq and later to Afghanistan, where he lost his legs and left arm in a landmine and bomb attack. Dunagan lives in Edmond with his wife, Angie, and their five children.
After the ceremony, UCO students, faculty and staff planted about 3,000 American flags in the ground around Broncho Lake in remembrance of the men and women who lost their lives on 9/11 attacks on New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
"It honors those who have fallen, the innocents that lost their lives that day on 9/11 and also honors the first responders, the soldiers that gave their lives and sacrificed greatly for the service," said Dunagan.
Students also prepared spaghetti dinners and made “Thank You” cards for local firehouses, handwritten by members of the UCO community.
“In keeping with the mission of the Volunteer and Service Learning Center, we find it very important to participate in this national day of service. In the state of Oklahoma, we are especially attuned to reacting to tragedies with our service and honoring those who were lost,” said Kenedie McAdams, the center’s coordinator. “On September 11th, we want students to reflect on the events of that tragic day and the lives that were lost, as well as focus their energy to serve others. We choose to honor our local first responders because, first responders were essential to the recovery after 9/11. We thank them for their continued service every day.”