Sep 14, 2022
College of the Ozarks holds 9/11 Memorial Ceremony today
Survivor of Twin Towers tells story of survival, heroism of firefighters, police and first responders
POINT LOOKOUT, MO. — College of the Ozarks held a special ceremony today, Sept. 12, to commemorate the lives of those who perished in the terrorist attacks that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001.
Members of the community, firefighters from the Western Taney County and Branson Fire Departments, K-12 students from School of the Ozarks, C of O students, staff, and faculty attended the event. The ceremony was held at the Lest We Forget 9/11 Memorial located next to the Point Lookout Fire Department on the college campus.
The ceremony included a welcome by Dr. Brad Johnson, College of the Ozarks president, music from the College of the Ozarks Concert Band, the raising of the 9/11 National Remembrance Flag, and the invocation by College of the Ozarks Chancellor Jerry C. Davis.
Dr. Nathan Harness, a World Trade Center survivor, gave special remarks. On the morning of the attacks, he was working on the 61st floor of the South Tower. Firefighters, police officers, rescue personnel, and numerous civilians sacrificed their lives to save his life that day.
“Twenty-one years ago today, 19 terrorists boarded planes with the intent to destroy our way of life,” Harness said “That loss, that day and in the days to come, would be almost too much to bear. Terrorists sought to rob us of life and of liberty. Today, remember, remember that loss of many Americans. These are not simply names on a monument or a plaque, but they’re brothers and sisters, they’re mothers and fathers, they’re sons and daughters. They’re Americans. They are heroes.”
Harness told about his journey, climbing down 61 flights in a stairwell packed with people, exiting the South Tower and looking back, only then realizing the full impact and devastation that he had escaped from, running miles to Central Park and being helped to his home by a stranger.
“It was when I got down to the 44th floor that the second plane hit our tower,” Harness said. “That is the moment that I’ll never forget. The power was instantly cut and drywall on the stairwell began to crack out. People began to scream.”
He was impacted that day by the love and heroism of complete strangers.
“A New York firefighter looked me in the eyes as he was coming up the stairwell. He looked as scared as I was. And he said, ‘There’s a way out. You’re gonna be okay.’ All those individuals did not make it out with me. They went on as heroes to clear a pathway out for people like me. I had seen and even expected love from those closest to me. This was the first time that I saw sacrifice of the highest order from strangers, people who didn't even know me. The acts of these heroes allowed me to walk out of the building. What I observed that day has changed my life ever since. I'm certain I wouldn't be here today without the sacrifice of firefighters, police officers, Port Authority, and many civilians. Those heroes gave me and thousands of others the precious minutes we needed to survive.”
Harness’ words gave encouragement to everyone in attendance, encouragement to live a life of excellence and to be ready when called to serve others.
“I can never repay in kind the sacrifices given to me on 9/11, but what I can do is remember. What I can do is I can share. What I can do is I can live life fully in honor of those lost. Every single day is a gift from God. Heroism is leadership, leadership of the highest order. And typically, it isn't determined on the day that you're called to it. Instead, it's fostered in the weeks and the months and the years beforehand and a life lived in excellence where we understand the value of others.”