Paul L. Caron

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Remembering September 11th At Pepperdine: Life, Death, And Light


Pepperdine University to Honor 9/11 Victims with Waves of Flags Display:

On Saturday, September 10, Pepperdine University’s Alumni Park will become home to the University’s ninth annual Waves of Flags installation. The display will commemorate the lives lost in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.

Waves of Flags will feature a display of a total of 2,977 full-size flags—2,887 American flags for each American life lost and 90 various international flags representing the home countries of those from abroad who died in the 9/11 attacks.

On September 10, at 1 PM, a group of over 150 volunteers, including Pepperdine faculty, staff, students, and Malibu community members, will join together to install and raise the flags.

The installation became a Pepperdine tradition in 2008 when the College Republicans, inspired by a similar display, wanted to bring the tribute to the University. Now in its ninth year, Waves of Flags has become a significant service project for the Pepperdine community. ...

In addition to the Waves of Flags installation, the University is the permanent home of Heroes Garden, a public space for visitors to reflect and honor all those who live heroic lives, including Pepperdine alumnus Thomas E. Burnett, Jr. (MBA ’95), a passenger on United Flight 93 whose life was cut short in the 9/11 attacks.

Heores Garden

Pepperdine Law School Surf Report:

Students, staff, and faculty were invited to attend a 9/11 memorial service held at President Andrew K. Benton’s residence. Marking the fifteenth anniversary of the terror attacks, the program included a tribute to alumnus Thomas E Burnett, Jr. (MBA ’95, PKE ’92), who lost his life as a passenger on United Flight 93. Daughters Halley (’18) and Anna Burnett spoke of their family’s strength and of their faith; quoting their mother, they encouraged the audience, “In the midst of tragedy, we become strong.” The service also included an invocation by President Benton, a ceremonial placing of the memorial wreath, Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 read by Senior Lieutenant and Patrol Commander Eric Barnes, and a devotional message delivered by School of  Law professor (and New Yorker) Michael Helfand.


This has been a heart-wrenching week at Pepperdine Law School, as we mourned the sudden death and celebrated the amazing life of 1L Evan Carthen:

The School of Law held a celebration of life service honoring Evan Carthen on Friday, September 9, at 10:30 AM in the Lon V. Smith Atrium. The Carthen family, University President Andrew K. Benton, University chaplain Sara Barton, and others joined the School of Law community to celebrate Evan’s time at Pepperdine Law.

Associate Dean Danny DeWalt welcomed the standing-room-only crowd of 250 attendees by reading from Evan’s application essay, where he talked about his desire to be a light, and closed with the Bible verse, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5). President Andrew K. Benton prayed, and then the first of Evan’s 1L professors, Naomi Goodno, read Matthew 5:14-16 and reflected again on what became a common theme during the service, Evan’s “light” to his communities. Professors Jim Gash and Amy Levin and Dean of Students Steve Shultz talked about the impact Evan had made on them even in his few weeks on campus and admired the family’s incredible strength and welcoming nature despite their tragedy.

Evan’s three roommates told stories about his kindness, sense of humor, and dedication to helping others. Cal Lutheran alumna and third year Pepperdine Law student Joette Carini reflected that Evan “loved his teachers, loved his classmates, he just loved everything.” Finally, Megan, Evan’s older sister, remarked of his open excitement at being a student at Pepperdine Law during his time here.

Evan 1

Evan 2

Al Sturgeon (Dean of Graduate Studies, Pepperdine), The Heroic Life:

We have grown weary of recounting where we were on September 11, 2001. There may come a day when new generations ask us to remember, and we most assuredly will for the memories are too strong to fade. But the jury is still out on whether the lessons will endure.

There is one image-turned-lesson that I have pledged never to let fade: Firefighters racing up the stairwells of the World Trade Center as the buildings crumbled. They were simply doing what they were trained to do, which was to be heroic. I want to live like that, too—racing toward danger and not away from it—so it stands to reason that I also want to die that way. That is neither thrill-seeking nor pushing limits nor adrenaline addiction; instead, it is a compelling desire to make the world better for those in great need, which I remain convinced requires leaving safety and venturing toward danger.

Years ago, I read a couplet that captures this goal and have shared it often:

Some want to live within sound of church and steeple bell.
I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.


Looking back, the times in life when I felt most alive were those spent at the Hellside Rescue Shop. In that shop, there must be a portrait of a New York City firefighter racing up those steps. The firefighter is young and brave and determined and has so much to live for, which is exactly what you find in that image—someone living for so much. Today, I spend extra time looking at that inspiring image.

I invite others to consider such a life, one that acknowledges fear but meets it head on. Living for others is preferable to living for self-indulgence, self-preservation, and self-promotion, and the lines to get in are way shorter.

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The flag display will be up until September 26.

Posted by: Paul Caron | Sep 11, 2016 1:59:46 PM

How long will the flags be on display?

Posted by: Betty Miller | Sep 11, 2016 1:48:55 PM