Almost two decades ago, the world was shaken by a series of violent attacks that struck the U.S. on an ordinary Tuesday morning in September. The 9/11 attacks represented a collective loss of innocence for Americans and ushered in historic changes with regard to domestic security.
Perhaps no industry experienced the latter more acutely than the aviation industry.
“So many career fields, the industries, the changes in the airlines, the way we work, the way we travel, the degree offerings here at Embry-Riddle are much different than they were before 9/11,” says Bill Thompson (’87), executive director of alumni engagement at Embry-Riddle.
As a university firmly rooted in the aviation industry, the Embry-Riddle community was uniquely impacted by the events of 9/11.
In light of this fact, the Office of Alumni Engagement partnered with Daytona Beach Campus Chaplain Rev. David Keck to host a virtual remembrance, or Eagles E-Gathering, this year, to allow alumni to connect, discuss the industry impact and share their memories of 9/11. Using the Zoom platform, alumni met face-to-face online, despite being in different locations across the globe.
At the event, Andy Nureddin (’85, ’93) recalled scrambling to get the student pilots at his Montreal-based training center sheltered or transported home, after hearing of the attack on the Twin Towers in New York City. He later learned that his close friend and fellow alumnus, David Charlebois (’83), was a pilot onboard one of the hijacked aircraft.
“[9/11] left an indelible mark on me, on my career and on my perspective on aviation in general,” Nureddin says.
Other alumni attending the event also shared their experiences and how 9/11 impacted their careers. The Eagles E-Gathering was more than just a chance to grieve and heal, it was the first step in a research project meant to culminate in a weeklong symposium in 2021 — marking the 20th anniversary of 9/11.
Thompson, Keck and graduate students Maria Schmiedhofer (’20) and Victoria Gustafsson (’20) are working to collect the memories and perspectives of Embry-Riddle faculty, students, alumni and industry professionals for this symposium.
The 9/11 Eagles E-Gathering was one of more than 150 virtual events hosted by the Office of Alumni Engagement, since the coronavirus pandemic struck the U.S. in March 2020. For information about upcoming virtual events go to: alumni.erau.edu/events.