DG, AKA co-host ‘Red, White & SMU’ to remember 9/11
On Friday at 7:30 p.m. SMU students, faculty, veterans and first responders gathered at the New Commons courtyard to celebrate the new football season and remember 9/11.
Attendants lined up for Canes, pizza and drinks while music blasted throughout the pavilion. Faculty members socialized by decorated dining tables while students mingled, threw around footballs and played tailgate games provided by the hosts.
The event, “Red, White & SMU” is co-hosted by Panhellenic sorority Delta Gamma and National Panhellenic Council sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha. It is the first time the two Greek organizations have collaborated.
Shelby Kehr, VP Panhellenic of Delta Gamma, says both parties reached out to each other to plan an event after months of trying to join forces.
“We’ve been in relationship with AKA for a while,” Kehr said. “Last semester we wanted to do something with them but didn’t have the opportunity to; thus, we took this one.”
Kehr says the idea started out as a pep rally for the SMU-UNT football game until the group realized it fell on Sept. 11. The event then evolved to “Red, White & SMU,” wearing school colors to excite the community for game day on Sept. 12 and to show patriotism to remember 9/11.
Layla Gulley, President of Alpha Kappa Alpha, says to show respect and recollect on 9/11, the group asked members of the Military Veterans Society and first responders to come honor their service. President Turner was also invited to make a speech to remember this day.
“We have veterans here and some SMU police officers- everyone who’s on shift right now we’ve asked them to come over,” Gulley said. “We are also going to have a moment of silence after President Turner arrives.”
President Turner arrived on schedule, shaking hands with veterans and first responders. He gave a short speech reflecting on 9/11, and acknowledging how people still grieve for the almost 3,000 that perished, 14 years later.
Turner says it’s important to reflect and remember 9/11.
“We have military and first responders who, on numerous occasions, have been under fire by terrorists,” Turner said. “So it’s just good once a year, if not more, to say we remember them, we remember the grief of their families, and we really are thankful for those who serve in the military and who work as firemen, policemen and women to help protect us.”
After his speech, a moment of silence was announced. Over 200 attendants closed their eyes and bowed their heads.
President Turner said a short prayer before restarting the event. Turner thanked the veterans and first responders for coming, prompting the crowd to applause as gratitude for their service.
Robert Nelson, student, veteran and president of the Military Veterans Society, commented on the event and how he feels as an honored guest when asked to come during the remembrance of 9/11.
“I was very moved about their passionate ideology towards what had happened,” Nelson said. “It made me feel closer to SMU- I was very touched they asked us to come out.”
He says SMU has made big efforts to make him feel welcome since his arrival in 2013 and continues to do so.
“It made me think about how SMU goes above and beyond in everything they do for their students and the community,” Nelson said. “The camaraderie at SMU easily surpasses everywhere I’ve been.”