To commemorate the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, Hodges University professors Dr. Joseph Kibitlewski and Dr. Rosemary Arway presented a 9/11 Flag of Heroes to the school. The flag contains the names of all emergency service personnel who gave their lives to save others in the terrorist attacks. The flag was presented during the fall term faculty meeting.
“When I entered law enforcement in 1974, an older deputy told me that when you pick up your badge, that piece of tin, you share a bond with all the other law enforcement officers,” said Dr. Kibitlewski. “Through all the years of wearing a badge I never felt that bond until I stood before the 9/11 Flag of Heroes. I thought about the events of 9/11, and how, if I had been a cop in New Your City on that fateful day, my name could very well have been on that flag with all the other heroes who were killed. It was very moving for me. I felt that bond. It was real…it was intense.”
After nine years, Dr. Arway’s memories of 9/11 are still vivid. “On Sept 11, 2001, I was the commanding officer of the Patrol Division of the Norwalk, CT Police Department,” she recalls. “Norwalk is approximately 45 minutes outside of New York City, and on that day we could see the Twin Towers burning. Many of the residents there are New York City commuters and that had contributed to the chaos. Before noon, I assembled a squad of ten officers that were assigned to our Emergency Services Unit. They were deployed to the city and did not return for over two days.
“As the commanding officer, I also had the opportunity to respond to the city and my experience was unforgettable. Having grown up in New York City, it was very painful to see the destruction that was caused. The human loss was beyond comprehension and yet, emergency services such as police, fire, EMS were still responsible for providing services. At that time, no one was trained in how to handle a scene like the World Trade Center.
“One of the more poignant things I recall is that area hospitals immediately tried to prepare for the expected onslaught of casualties. When that did not happen, it sadly became very apparent that there were very few survivors. Many emergency service personnel were very frustrated that there was nothing they could do to.
“When I saw the Flag of Heroes, with all the names of the deceased emergency service workers, it struck a very raw nerve. This flag was designed solely to commemorate the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice and I am very pleased that Hodges is helping to keep that memory alive.”
The flag has been framed and is on display in the Community Room at the University’s Ft. Myers campus.