Military personnel, first responders, students, facility, and interested parties gathered outside at the University of Central Missouri Wednesday morning to honor the lives lost in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The University of Central Missouri (UCM) hosted a Remembrance Ceremony on Patriot’s Day at 11 a.m. at the University’s Quadrangle, with presentations and speeches from local agencies.
“This morning as you look around you will see folks from all walks of life gathered together to pay their respects to those who perished in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001,” said Outgoing UCM Student Organization President Kenny Wall in his opening remarks.
The event began with the presentation of the colors by UCM ROTC cadets. UCM Vice Provost Student Experience and Engagement Dr. Shari Bax gave a welcome followed by a performance of the National Anthem by UCM Alumnus John Kennedy.
The keynote speaker was Colonel Charles Hausman an alumnus of UCM. He currently serves full-time as the director of aviation and safety for the Missouri National Guard.
Hausman spoke of his experience on 9/11 when he was a captain and assigned as an assistant operations officer for 35th Aviation Brigade in Warrensburg. They heard the news that a plane had hit the World Trade Center in New York City when someone came into the office and told them. They assumed it was just and accident until they got the news about the second and third planes.
“At that point, we knew this was no accident and we were under attack,” said Hausman.
Hausman and others hurried to turn on radios to get more news and someone found an old television with bunny ears and aluminum foil which allowed them to get a blurry picture. Housman said their phones started ringing off the hook with soldiers calling in to see if they needed to report in, worried citizens, and people giving them directives.
“It was a flurry of activity because we knew that the United States was under attack,” Hausman explained. “We did not know the scope of what was going to happen, but we did know we had facilities, such as ours here on Gay Street, that had military equipment in it and we had a small amount of soldiers and it was very lightly defended.”
Hausman said they immediately went on level Delta lockdown, the highest and most critical level of threat levels in the military. It was the only time in Hausman’s career he has ever done a lockdown of that level. The Warrensburg Police Department stationed a vehicle outside the facility. Despite the chaos inside of the facility, Hausman spoke of an oddly peaceful moment he had outside that day.
“One thing that I remember of that day is sometime that afternoon I absolutely needed to take a mental break and I stepped outside and looked around,” Hausman began. “It was a beautiful day, it was like today, skies clear, light breeze, not too hot. While my world inside the building was going fairly crazy, the world outside the building was very calm…
“Birds were chirping, flags fluttering in the breeze. It was an interesting paradox because the audio and the video did not match,” he continued. “The audio that I was hearing inside from the phones was ‘We’re under attack’, ‘We don't know what’s going on’…but when I stepped outside I was in Warrensburg, Missouri. I did not feel threatened. I was with my community, my peers.”
Hausman gave advice to the young soldiers there, to take those moments to pause and take a breath when they were feeling overwhelmed.
After 9/11 many of Hausman’s friends were deployed, but the unit he was in was non-deployable at that time. By 2005, he was an instructor pilot when he got the call for deployment. One of the reasons he was asked to do the deployment was because of an aviation maintenance manager course he took years before, a course that he did not want to take at the time. Housman told the audience to take whatever job they’re assigned to and excel in it.
Hausman did several deployments where he learned that the mission is ‘mission first and people always’, that the ‘the mission is the science, taking care of people is the art’. In his closing remarks, Hausman spoke of the importance of community and encouraged the audience to introduce themselves to each other.
“A community is what forms the fabric of our society,” Hausman said. “A community and a sense of community is what makes this country strong. When you take that and combine it with your faith and your convictions, that is what makes this country resilient and allows us to overcome a tragedy like 9/11.”
The ceremony also featured a moment of reflection from UCM Professor of Military Science and Leadership Lt. Colonel Bryan Vaden and a firing of the cannon by UCM ROTC Cadets.
Local first responders were also honored with readings of the “Policeman’s Prayer” by the Warrensburg Police Department and the “Fireman’s Prayer” by the Warrensburg Fire Department. There was a ringing of a bell by local firefighters to honor the firefighters that died.
The ceremony ended with all of the attending emergency response attendees being invited to the front of the audience while others applauded to honor and thank them for their service.