Petty Officer 1st Class Phillip Thompson found himself commemorating the 9/11 attacks in an unexpected way.
Thompson, a State College-based Navy recruiter, was walking in uniform Wednesday to an anniversary ceremony at the Penn State veterans memorial when he came across tiny American flags sticking out of the Old Main lawn.
Students were planting the 2,996 flags — one for each life lost in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks with hijacked airliners — for another ceremony on the Old Main patio. Thompson, having the time to help, grabbed a handful and added to the spread of red, white and blue.
“I think it’s very important that we remember Sept. 11,” he said. “It was a very, very important and gruesome day in U.S. history.
“I know a lot of people who are serving today just because of what happened on Sept. 11. ... This display is very pleasing to see because there are a lot of different people from different backgrounds putting up flags. I think it represents something. We’re all on the same team, and it’s something we should remember every year, and it brings us together as a country, and I’m very proud to be out here helping out.”
In the same spirit, several dozen people gathered on the patio to remember the 12th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center towers in New York and the Pentagon, and the crashing of Flight 93 in Shanksville when the crew and passengers rose up against their hijackers.
Organized by the Penn State College Republicans, the ceremony joined others across the nation in honoring the victims of the attack, including firefighters, police and EMS personnel killed in the line of duty.
Speakers at the Penn State event also called on the public to reflect on the unity and service shown in the aftermath of the attacks, and emulate the example in communities.