Sept. 11, 2001 marks a day in history that Americans will never forget. Students on Main Campus plan to reflect on the past 11 years by hosting a conspiracy discussion followed by a candlelight vigil at the Bell Tower.
“He was supposed to be there that day but he was late,” recent broadcast, telecommunications and mass media alumnus Kenneth Earle said of his uncle, who sometimes had meetings for work in the World Trade Center.
Earle — in sixth grade at the time — said he didn’t understand what was going on. As school let out, phone lines died and rumors spread, he wandered home to Queens with a sky of smoke above him.
“It was just craziness really,” Earle said.
Eric Francis-Wright, a recent civil engineering alumnus, said, “I remember I didn’t know what was going on. They closed school early and parents were taking kids out of class one by one.”
“It felt so eerie coming home that day. It felt different from any other day,” Francis-Wright added.
Francis-Wright, also from Queens, had a family friend who survived the horror that day.
“One of my mother’s friends was supposed to go in that day, but he didn’t go in,” Francis-Wright said. “I don’t know exactly the reason why he didn’t go in that day…but he definitely would have been in the building.”
Earle and Francis-Wright are both members of the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity, the organization in charge of the 9/11 candlelight vigil taking place tonight at the Bell Tower at 9 p.m.
“Even though it happened in New York, it was a tragedy for the whole nation,” Earle said.
Senior civil engineering major Denzel Golden, president of Temple’s Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Epsilon Chapter, said the purpose of the vigil is to honor those lost in the 9/11 tragedy.
“From the firefighters to the police officers, the public citizens and even the armed forces that fought in subsequent battles in the Middle East afterward – we just want to take the time to remember those people and commemorate them,” Golden said.
The vigil will host an opening prayer, singers and spoken word performers, Golden said.
Golden has also planned a conspiracy-theory discussion in Student Center Room 200C at 7:14 p.m. to take place before the vigil.
“We’re going to try to make people more aware of certain things that are out there,” Golden said.
Golden hopes to act as a facilitator for discussion at the lecture-based program, while students engage in an intelligent conversation about 9/11 conspiracy theories.
Francis-Wright said that with his civil engineering studies, he has come to see what happened on 9/11 in a different way. He has formed a conspiracy theory by analyzing the buildings he believes were somehow infiltrated before the planes hit.
“We’re all intelligent kids, so we don’t always believe everything we hear,” Earle said. “That’s why we want to bring this program. Not to tell people what the answer is, but to form a discussion about it.”
“We’re not experts…but we’re learning together,” Golden said.
Golden hopes to show movie clips to get attendees’ minds thinking, while incorporating the discussion of why people believe in conspiracies in the first place.
“There are a lot of things that don’t add up,” Francis-Wright said. “We just want to have a program to kind of go through why these conspiracies exist and what is the actual science behind an actual conspiracy theory.”
Lauren Hertzler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.