Sept. 11 ceremony unites campus

By Tom Uribes

Fresno State's touching observance of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks drew national attention when it was included in the Associated Press' top story of the day about anniversary ceremonies around the world.

Newspapers throughout California and the country, including the New York Times, used the AP story in their editions.

The Associated Press is a not-for-profit news service cooperative, which means it is owned by its media members. In the United States alone, AP serves 1,550 newspapers and 5,000 radio and television stations. It also has more than 8,500 newspaper, radio and television subscribers in 112 countries. More than a billion people every day read, hear or see AP news.

Fresno State's observance also got extensive coverage by local media outlets.

Included in the AP story section about Fresno State was a quote from Laurie Tolbert of Hanford, sister-in-law of Lt. Cmdr. Vince Tolbert, who was killed in the attack on the Pentagon. She represented the family of Vince Tolbert, a Fresno State alum, and voiced a message of strength:

"My brother-in-law lived life by a motto, 'Live life to its fullest. I'd rather burn out than fade away.' And that's what he did," Laurie Tolbert told the crowd.

Along with President Welty and student body president Ryan Jacobsen, Tolbert spoke to about 2,000 people who filled the Peace Garden, which had been adorned with red, white and blue ribbons in memory of the nearly 3,000 persons killed in the attacks.

The victims included Tolbert's brother-in-law and Todd Beamer, also a former Fresno State student. Each was memorialized with the planting in the Peace Garden of a Canary Island pine tree, courtesy of Tree Fresno, and two wreaths prepared by Fresno State's Floral Lab.

Laurie Tolbert placed a wreath on Vincent's tree and Jacobsen, representing Fresno State's student body that Beamer was once a part of, placed a wreath at the tree for Beamer.

"Vince would have been honored to know he was remembered by so many, especially by his alma mater, Fresno State," Laurie said. "He was a proud Bulldog to the end."

Jacobsen said he spoke for all Associated Students "in honoring and remembering those individuals who served our community and our nation and have given the greatest sacrifice of all.

"The Associated Students joins Dr. Welty and the entire university community in honoring the service and bravery of thousands of men and women, including alumni Vincent Tolbert and Todd Beamer," Jacobsen said. "These former Bulldogs represented our university and bravely served our country. They make me proud to be a Bulldog and proud to be an American."

Welty noted that the number of trees in the heart of the campus is about equal to the number of people who lost their lives on Sept. 11.

"As I walk across this campus and see these trees ­ that's one way I can remember the immensity of our loss," he said.

"But I also am encouraged that what was meant to harm us on Sept. 11, 2001 has made us stronger on Sept. 11, 2002. In the face of unspeakable violence, cruelty and hate, we have seen heroism, love and sacrifice. We have learned about who we are as a people. We have seen our character as a nation reaffirmed," said Welty.

The first anniversary of the attack began with flag-raising ceremonies in the morning at the North Gym and the Thomas Administration Building and a moment of silence at 5:46 a.m. Ribbons had been placed the day before on nearly 700 trees surrounding the campus and in the Peace Garden.

Tolbert was a Lemoore High School graduate who played for the Bulldogs football team from 1980-83. A lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy, Tolbert is interred in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C. He is survived by his widow, Shari, a Hoover High (Fresno) graduate, and children, Amanda, Brittany, and Anthony.

Beamer was a passenger on Flight 93 that crashed in Pennsylvania on Sept. 11 and is credited for helping overcome the hijackers with the rallying cry, "Let's Roll!"

He was a student for two semesters in 1987 at Fresno State with a physical therapy degree objective. Beamer tried out for the Bulldogs baseball team as a walk-on but did not make the team.

Beamer is survived by his wife, Lisa, and three children, Drew, David and Morgan.


Back to University Journal, 10/01/02 Issue


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