Tragedy brings hope through volunteering

On Sept. 11, 2001, 2,977 lives were lost. My memory of 9/11 is very clear, because on that day my father was killed in the World Trade Center. My cousin, in her early 20s at the time, survived the attacks on the World Trade Center, escaping Tower two.

Imagine for a minute losing a loved one in the World Trade Center or imagine someone you loved was on one of the planes that struck the towers. Individuals in New York City were not the only ones affected by the tragedy. Sept. 11, 2001 changed the lives of many throughout America.

I remember volunteering Sept. 11, 2009 in Florida State University’s project. That day college democrats and republicans volunteered together, despite different political affiliations.

One former SMU student, was influenced by the Young America’s Foundation and decided to bring the project to our very own campus.

Now because of that one individual, SMU is one out of over 180 campuses across America to adopt the project, according to Young America’s Foundation.

Last year, SMU brought in volunteers from various campus groups and organizations to start our own Never Forget Project.

Sept. 10, 2010 volunteers for SMU’s 9/11: Never Forget Project set up 2,977 flags for victims, and displayed them around the lawn in front of Dallas Hall. Myself and the other volunteers raised over $300 for the Dallas Police and Fire Relief Fund by selling 9/11 bracelets and pins throughout the day at various tables also located around the area in front of Dallas Hall. Local news and radio stations interviewed volunteers throughout the day, covering the event.

One display in the front of Dallas Hall allowed students to highlight the names of 9/11 victims that they knew. In total, five names were highlighted.

When a former SMU student emailed the undergraduate class of Southern Methodist University students that year, I responded right away to her email. Now after my involvement, I have had the opportunity to share my experiences within the classroom and expand the memorial throughout SMU.

Being part of this nationwide memorial project for 9/11 victims impacts many across America, and as someone who has suffered a personal loss, participation is appreciated and recognized across the country.

A series of 9/11 remembrance events took place this year. I was selected as the student event chair and have been working with the Maguire Center for Ethics to help with these events.

All that I’m doing here at SMU is to honor my dad and all the other 9/11 victims. My goal is to make him proud and do all I can here on campus to bring the SMU and Dallas community together to reflect on and remember the tragic events of the attack.

Christina Rancke is a junior majoring in advertising and communcations. She can be reached for comment at

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