On September 11, 2001, a day etched into the annals of American history, the nation bore witness to an unprecedented and devastating chain of coordinated terrorist attacks. These harrowing events, forever seared into the collective consciousness of humanity, unfolded with a chilling precision that shattered the sense of security and normalcy for millions of people around the world. The ramifications of that tragic day would echo for generations, shaping policies, perspectives, and the course of countless lives. As the 22nd anniversary of this somber day drew near, the community of Athens, West Virginia, gathered at Concord University to honor and remember the victims whose lives were abruptly and unfairly cut short. The university, recognizing the profound importance of commemorating this pivotal moment in history, organized a special event to pay tribute to the fallen and to express gratitude for the courage and sacrifice of the valiant responders who displayed unwavering bravery in the face of unparalleled adversity.
On September 7, 2023, the Concord University community and the wider public were invited to gather at the University Point chapel for an enlightening and poignant talk by Dr. Peter Berardi, a former Navy SEAL and first responder on 9/11. Dr. Berardi’s firsthand account of the events and his experiences as a responder offered a unique perspective into the courage and sacrifice exhibited by individuals during one of America’s darkest days.
Dr. Berardi, a distinguished Naval Special Warfare officer (SEAL), dedicated 23 years of his life in uniform, contributing significantly to the nation’s security. His extensive career saw him involved in critical missions and operations, showcasing his unwavering dedication and exceptional skills in the line of duty. Upon his retirement in 2012, he continued to inspire and educate, sharing his experiences and expertise.
The event commenced at 10 AM, allowing attendees to gain insight into the challenges and heroism that unfolded during the tragic events of 9/11. Dr. Berardi’s account shed light on the immediate response efforts and the resilience of individuals who came together to help their fellow citizens.
Following the talk, at 11 AM, attendees had the opportunity to gather for refreshments in the Pais Fellowship Hall. This time allowed for reflection, discussion, and a sense of community as people came together to honor the memory of those who lost their lives and the brave responders who faced adversity with unwavering resolve.
Concord University was honored to host this event, providing a platform for the community to come together, remember, and pay tribute to the lives lost on 9/11. It was a reminder that unity and resilience can triumph over the darkest of times and that the spirit of service and sacrifice can shine through even in the face of unimaginable tragedy.
The event was an informative and emotional experience, serving as a reminder of the strength and resilience of the American people in the face of adversity. Many joined at the University Point chapel to commemorate the 20th anniversary of 9/11 and to honor the heroes whose bravery and sacrifice will never be forgotten. Dr. Berardi’s invaluable insights added a profound dimension to the event, showcasing the heroism and dedication that defined the response to this tragic chapter in American history.
by Josiah Smith