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Sept. 11, 2002

University And Community Salute America's Heroes

Students, faculty, staff, and members of the Ouachita Parish community paused at noon today to remember not only those individuals who lost their lives in the national tragedy one year ago, but also those who responded to that tragedy and who are protecting America today. The event, "A Day of Remembrance", was held on campus in Fant-Ewing Coliseum and featured patriotic music provided by ULM's Concert Choir, a display of American flags provided by American Legion L B Faulk Post 13, a variety of inspirational speakers, and presentations honoring first-responder groups from our region. Master of Ceremonies for the occasion was Dr. Paxton Oliver, Professor and Head of Communicative Disorders at ULM.

The program was a blend of patriotism and recognition as members from all segments of the community reflected on the events of the past year. John Gulick, an Eagle Scout from Monroe, led the attendees in the Pledge of Allegiance immediately following the presentation of the colors and the singing of the National Anthem. The opening memorial prayer was offered by David Kline, rabbi of Temple B'Nai Israel, followed by a welcome and introductions by Dr. Oliver.

Receiving special recognition from the audience were the representatives of the four Armed Services in our country who were present: ET2 Jesse Finklea, representing the United States Navy; SSgt Eric Turpeau, representing the United States Marine Corps; SSgt Michael Elliott, representing the United States Army; and SSgt Jeffrey Barnhill, representing the United States Air Force.

Dr. Oliver introduced those elected officials present for the occasion, and especially thanked Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo and West Monroe Mayor Dave Norris for their
proclamations honoring " . . . those many innocent victims who needlessly and tragically lost their lives on September 11, 2001, at the hands of those who sought unsuccessfully to break the American spirit and destroy our democracy, and to reassure their survivors that the sacrifice of their loved ones will not be forgotten."

Dr. Mahmoud Khalil, M.D. and Head of the Islamic Center of Monroe, noted in remarks to the group that the events of September 11, 2001, had changed not only America, but also the world. "This event reminded us of the heavy price that humanity must pay for ignorance, intolerance, and hatred," said Khalil. He told those assembled that ". . . the fight against terrorism belongs to all of us. We can defeat hatred with love. We can defeat ignorance with education. We can defeat war with peace."

The University Concert Choir, accompanied by keyboardist Coralie White and conducted by Johnny Jones, presented a moving musical tribute. The first, "Landate Dominum" by Mozart, featured soloist Kristen Oden. The second selection was "Hymn to America" by Snyder and Perry.

Following the musical interlude, David Tyler, Commander of American Legion L B Faulk Post 13, presented special citations of honor to representatives of the area's "first responders" in recognition of their outstanding service not only in the face of 9/11, but also every day as they protect our citizens. Calling them ". . . our everyday heroes", Commander Tyler asked the audience to ". . . thank them whenever you see them. They are protecting you every single day."

Accepting the citations on behalf of their respective units were Major Stan Hayden, West Monroe Police Department; Major Bob Crocker, Monroe Police Department; Sheriff Richard Fewell, Ouachita Parish Sheriff's Office; Captain Don McDonald, Louisiana State Police Troop F; Chief Larry Ellerman, ULM Police Department; Chief Vern Breland, Sterlington Police Department; Chief Robert Kelley, Richwood Police Department; Randy Jack, Monroe Fire Department; Chief Mike Stansell, West Monroe Fire Department, Chief Donald Nugent, Ouachita Parish Fire Department; and Jamie Eppinette, American Medical Response.

President James E. Cofer, Sr., host for the event, in his remarks noted that except for a schedule change, he and First Lady Deborah Cofer would have been in New York City one year ago today. He recalled his many previous trips to the city, and the breathtaking views from atop the Twin Towers.

"Several months ago, Deborah and I visited New York City and like many others we went to Ground Zero. I was reminded of what we do as a university and what the aftermath of the terrorists' attacks means to the Academy," Cofer said. He observed that institutions of higher learning have a responsibility to ". . . give students a chance at every imaginable idea. We must make them open to the disharmony -- the cacophony of learning ­ for learning is not always harmonious. In this confusion of ideas, fresh air is

blown in every direction. From chaos comes new order, decisions, and progress." These events " . . . underscore our resolve to do everything in our power as faculty, administrators, and students to nurture and protect our freedom to teach and learn uninhibited by any established dogma. People died for us to enjoy those freedoms," said Cofer.

Following the retrieval of the colors, Dr. Bill Dye, pastor at North Monroe Baptist Church, delivered the closing prayer remembering ". . . the sacrifice and the spirit that is America."

Serving as the "Day of Remembrance" Steering Committee were Dr. Richard Hood of ULM, Chairman; Sue Edmunds, West Monroe-West Ouachita Chamber of Commerce; Ron Phillips, Monroe Chamber of Commerce; David Tyler, American Legion Post 13; and Denise Duplechin, Larry Ellerman, Valerie Fields, Duke Johnson, Paxton Oliver, Jeff Williams, Harold Williamson, and Veronika Avery representing ULM

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