Those words carry a special meaning in Prince George’s County where, on Sept. 11, 2001, 24 county residents were among the dead from a coordinated terrorist attack on key federal symbols here and the World Trade Center in New York City.
So the “never forget” chorus rang loudly from Upper Marlboro through the county’s Capitol Hill delegation Sept. 11.
The county lost more people than any other jurisdiction when planes commandeered by terrorists were crashed into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon and, on a flight that appeared headed for the U.S. Capitol, into a field in Shanksville, Pa.
“Eleven years have passed since the terrible, tragic events of September 11, 2001,” Prince George’s County Council Chair Andrea Harrison said in a statement. “And while the passage of time causes some memories to fade, we will never forget the day nearly 3,000 of our fellow Americans, including twenty-four Prince Georgians were killed during horrific terrorist attacks on our nation.”
Two of those 24, Angeline C. Carter of Forestville and Samantha Lightbourn-Allen of Hillside, were Prince George’s Community College students and the college was sure to honor their memory on this day.
“They took credit classes, continuing education classes and they were stellar examples of the men and women who were serious about their commitment to academic excellence,” said PGCC President Dr. Charlene Dukes.
That wasn’t all, though, as the school complied with President Obama’s 9/11 observance proclamation and held a National Day of Service and Remembrance at the school.
Among the activities the college held were a Veterans Fun Run, with all proceeds going to benefit homeless veterans; a PGCC Cares forum where officials from the college explained how they respond to students’ immediate needs; Learning Our Viewpoints, where students discussed small acts of kindness; and Exploring Opportunities to Serve, where participants learned about where they could get involved in community service on and off campus.
However, the main focus of the day was the Never Forget: 9/11 Remembrance Tribute. The solemn tribute’s focus was not only to remember those who died and saved lives on that day, but to celebrate differences of people.
At that ecumenical event Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Buddhist representatives rose to address the campus audience. The PGCC Voices of Triumph Gospel Choir also sang two selections and a video entitled “What Will You Do to Remember 9/11,” featuring actor, Samuel L. Jackson, NBA player Baron Davis and other people from every walk of life was played.
Perhaps the most poignant moment of the service, however, was a poem presented by college alumni representing two often-conflicting religions: Kadeem Palmer, a Christian, and Noor Tagouri, a Muslim. Their poem spoken about how the events of 9/11 changed the way America viewed each other in terms of religion.
“I am Black. I am White. I am a Christian. I am a Muslim. And we are not enemies,” the two said repeating after one another. “The real differences around the world today are not between blacks and whites, Jews and Arabs, Protestants and Catholics, Muslims, Serbs, and Croats.
“The real differences are between those who embrace peace and those who will destroy it,” they continued.
During the program, Dukes also thought back to the day of the attacks and how the school responded to the crisis. She said one of the main goals of the administration of the school was to make sure students understood how serious the situation was.
“Administrators, faculty and staff immediately put the welfare and safety of students and others first,” she said. “We organized information chains; went from building-to-building, office-to-office, and classroom-to-classroom to make sure that employees and students understood the gravity of the situation and responded accordingly.
“We called family members. We contacted public transportation systems. We carpooled,” she continued. “We did not leave the college until every student was gone.”
Meanwhile, Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) also honored those from Prince George’s and Montgomery counties who were slain in the 9/11 attack.
“We remember the individuals from our communities in Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties who lost their lives 11 years ago,” Edwards said in a statement. “I join families, friends, and communities in recognizing and honoring each of them. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with their loved ones.”