Americans will never forget Sept. 11, 2001. The day’s terrorist actions that claimed thousands of lives and decimated New York’s symbolic World Trade Center (WTC) are forever entrenched in people’s memories. Visitors to the University of Houston soon will have the opportunity to pay tribute to those who lost their lives on that fateful day and honor the fallen WTC.
UH’s World Trade Center Memorial and Reflection Garden will officially open during a ribbon cutting at 1 p.m., Jan. 29 outside of the New University Center’s south entrance. The memorial site (located outside of the New University Center’s south entrance) hosts an actual steel beam from the fallen World Trade Center within a garden setting. This ceremony complements a host of other events celebrating the opening of the New University Center (UC).
Through the efforts of UH’s Student Government Association (SGA) and Division of Student Affairs, the University obtained this memorial structure from the New York and New Jersey Port Authority. The 3,888 pound piece of twisted steel measures 69.5 inches long and 39.5 inches wide.
“Hosting this memorial site is important because it spotlights an important moment in American history,” said Keith Kowalka, assistant vice president for Student Affairs. “It also serves as a reminder to the campus community that America has a rich history of perseverance in the face of adversity.”
Bringing the massive beam to campus was not an overnight process. In 2009, Hammad Ahmed, then-vice president of the Student Video Network, read an article about the steel remnants of the World Trade Center. He then began discussing the concept of a 9/11 memorial with members of SGA including then-vice president Prince Wilson. SGA forwarded a recommendation to UH President Renu Khator advocating the acquisition of one of the 9/11 artifacts. Her support, combined with efforts of SGA officers and University administrators, moved the project forward. On Oct. 4, 2011, the steel beam was delivered to UH, where it remained in storage until the recent renovations of the UC.
SGA President Cedric K. Bandoh worked with the UC Transformation Project team and architectural/design firm to identify a proper spot for the memorial. Ultimately, it was decided to locate the World Center Memorial and Reflection Garden at the UC South Theatre entrance.
“This is very special for UH, as we are the only university in the state of Texas to have a piece of the World Trade Center on campus,” Bandoh said. “This memorial is the culmination of a student's vision back in 2009 and illustrates how students can make a huge impact.”
For additional details on the New University Center, its new amenities and other upcoming events, visit its website.