The past year has been a Centennial Celebration we’ll never forget, but the past five years have been some of the most uncertain years in our country’s history. Sept. 11, 2001, changed the course of U.S. history, and we intend to remember what happened.
The university’s 100-year mark has been appropriately celebrated, but we would be lying if we said we weren’t ready for it to be over, and what a way to end the 100th year of Christian higher education than a birthday celebration and a second century kick-off.
The coming week’s events-the Centennial Birthday Celebration this weekend and the Second Century Convocation on Monday-are a solid means to bid farewell to one century and greet the next.
However, in the bustle of pioneering into the next century, we must not forget the 2,973 lives lost in New York and the other 9/11 attacks-the most shattering attacks in this country since its conception.
The five-year anniversary is Monday, and ACU students, faculty and staff have talked minimally about it. I’m sure when it gets here, many from the university’s student body will reflect on the 2001 catastrophe with humility, but we feel a preparation of mind is in order before the anniversary on Monday.
Dr. Wayne Barnard, university dean of spiritual formation, said it might seem like the university is incredibly wrapped up in the Centennial and hasn’t given much thought to 9/11 commemoration preparations, but that’s not the case. Barnard has some plans of his own in the works to provide reflection time for students, faculty and staff.
Monday morning, the Living Room in the Campus Center will be open at 8 a.m., and a slide show of pictures from Sept. 11 will play all day in the room. Barnard said the atmosphere will be dark and contemplative, giving the ACU community a chance to visit the room to pray and reflect on the unfortunate events that took place five years ago at the Pentagon, World Trade Center and a plane over Pennsylvania.
During Monday’s Second Century Convocation, Dr. Dwayne VanRheenen, provost of the university, will provide remarks about the tragedy and open a time of reflection and silence for the entire assembly. Chapel attendees will have a chance on Monday to pay their respects to the normal people whose lives were taken during a not-so-normal day at work.
Monday will be a bittersweet day, and rightly so. The ACU community is expected to rejoice in the celebratory events taking place during the day, but let us not get so wrapped up in it that we forget our past.
For past tragedies can help us learn to cope with future tragedies. Let the overlapping commemorations demand a God-seeking humility from the ACU community.