STILLWATER — C.C. Reus clutched her father's military dog tags to her chest and wiped away tears Friday afternoon as she visited a 9/11 memorial at Oklahoma State University.
Faculty took turns reading the names of each person who died during the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. They held four moments of silence — one to mark each major incident of that day.
Afterward, students played radio recordings from dispatchers and first responders who assisted after the attacks. A fire truck and part of a beam from the World Trade Center were on display outside the Edmon Low Library. So were boots from firefighters, meant to honor first responders.
Throughout the day, many students stopped by for a few moments or turned their heads to look as they passed by, but Reus, a freshman from Tulsa, sat near the memorial for more than an hour.
“I love this,” she said. “I hate it, but I love it. I haven't seen people take the time to remember it like this.”
Reus came to the memorial as soon as her first class ended Friday. A friend of her family's died when the World Trade Center collapsed. Her father, who served three tours in Iraq with the U.S. Air Force, is undergoing outpatient mental health treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, Reus said.
“I see those boots and I'm so thankful he's alive,” Reus said. “But it's because of this he's not the man he once was.”
A small beam shaped like a cross from the World Trade Center was donated to the International Fire Service Training Association and Fire Protection Services at OSU. Relics from the two towers have been distributed to communities throughout the United States.
OSU officials showed the beam and held a moment of silence at Thursday's football game. The beam was on display outside the library Friday.
Matt Joseph, a political science junior from Coffeyville, Kan., stopped to take a photograph and reflect for a few minutes. He said he was glad the university decided to host a ceremony.
“I just wish more people were involved in remembering,” Joseph said.
Justin Boggs, a senior from Lompoc, Calif., said he wishes students could do more to pay tribute to the people who died that day.
Boggs was just waking up for school when the attacks happened in 2001. He saw images of a plane crashing into the World Trade Center on the TV.
He said he thought it was an action movie.
Eric Oliver, a fire protection and safety technology senior from Norman, was riding a bus to school in sixth grade when the attacks happened. Students on the bus were joking around when a girl in front stood up and yelled for everyone to be quiet and listen to the radio.
The rest of the day was confusion, Oliver said.
He said he hopes people from all backgrounds will unite to honor Sept. 11.
“It's important that we all as Americans remember this day and remember the sacrifices that some people make for our freedom,” Oliver said.
The artifact from the World Trade Center will be on display at the Stillwater Public Library on Sunday and at the Edmon Low Library from Monday through Sept. 30. The display will then remain on campus in the lobby of the Fire Protection Publications office.