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Commemorating the Ten Year Anniversary of 9/11

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Aerial view of the planned 9/11 memorial on the site of the World Trade Center. (photo from 9/11 Memorial website)

It has been a decade since the unprecedented terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.  Despite the time that has passed, our memories of that day remain fresh and raw.  More than 3,000 lives were lost in the attacks at New York City and the Pentagon as terrorist hijackers flew two planes into the World Trade Center and one into the Pentagon.  More than 400 firefighters, police officers, and other first responders lost their lives responding to the tragedies in New York and Washington.  Thanks to the brave actions of the passengers of United Flight 93, countless more lives were saved.  All 45 people aboard that flight were killed as a brave few attacked the hijackers, forcing the plane down in a field in rural Pennsylvania.  Had the hijackers completed their mission with an attack from Flight 93 on any strategic location in Washington, the total death toll would have been higher.

Less than a month later, the US military mobilized to Afghanistan to rout out the Taliban regime which had provided safe harbor to the terrorist mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks, Osama bin Laden.  Within a few years of entering Afghanistan, the US military also began mobilizing to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. 

Approximately three-quarters of APUS’ student body have served as active military personnel and have been directly involved in these missions.  Some of them made the ultimate sacrifice in these two theaters of action.  To date, more than 6,000 American military personnel have lost their lives in Iraq or Afghanistan since those wars began.  Each of us owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to the first responders who risked their lives to assist those trapped in the rubble in New York City and at the Pentagon, to our men and women in uniform, and to the many people who work diligently to identify and avert future attacks.  I encourage everyone to take a moment to reflect on the lives lost on that fateful September day and to commemorate and honor those who have continued to risk their lives to protect our nation and its citizens. 

Two months to the day after the attacks, President Bush said, “’Time is passing.  Yet, for the United States of America, there will be no forgetting September the 11th.  We will remember every rescuer who died in honor.  We will remember every family that lives in grief.  We will remember the fire and ash, the last phone calls, the funerals of the children.’”  These words are as accurate today as they were ten years ago.  Even as we near completion of an official memorial to victims in New York, celebrate the toppling of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the capture and execution of Saddam Hussein, and the death of Osama bin Laden earlier this year at the hands of US special forces, we will always remember that day, the tragedy it brought to our entire nation, and those who have given their lives since to ensure that the freedoms on which this nation was established remain intact for future generations. 

In honor of this weekend, Story Corps preserves some of the voices of those affected by 9/11.

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Wally Boston Dr. Wallace E. Boston was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of American Public University System (APUS) and its parent company, American Public Education, Inc. (APEI) in July 2004. He joined APUS as its Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer in 2002. In September 2019, Dr. Boston retired as CEO of APEI and retired as APUS President in August 2020. Dr. Boston guided APUS through its successful initial accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association in 2006 and ten-year reaccreditation in 2011. In November 2007, he led APEI to an initial public offering on the NASDAQ Exchange. For four years from 2009 through 2012, APEI was ranked in Forbes' Top 10 list of America's Best Small Public Companies. During his tenure as president, APUS grew to over 85,000 students, 200 degree and certificate programs, and approximately 100,000 alumni. While serving as APEI CEO and APUS President, Dr. Boston was a board member of APEI, APUS, Hondros College of Nursing, and Fidelis, Inc. Dr. Boston continues to serve as a member of the Board of Advisors of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), a member of the Board of Overseers of the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, and as a member of the board of New Horizons Worldwide. He has authored and co-authored papers on the topic of online post-secondary student retention, and is a frequent speaker on the impact of technology on higher education. Dr. Boston is a past Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of the McDonogh School, a private K-12 school in Baltimore. In his career prior to APEI and APUS, Dr. Boston served as either CFO, COO, or CEO of Meridian Healthcare, Manor Healthcare, Neighborcare Pharmacies, and Sun Healthcare Group. Dr. Boston is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, and Chartered Global Management Accountant. He earned an A.B. degree in History from Duke University, an MBA in Marketing and Accounting from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business Administration, and a Doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. In 2008, the Board of Trustees of APUS awarded him a Doctorate in Business Administration, honoris causa, and, in April 2017, also bestowed him with the title President Emeritus. In August 2020, the Board of Trustees of APUS appointed him Trustee Emeritus. In November 2020, the Board of Trustees announced that the APUS School of Business would be renamed the Dr. Wallace E Boston School of Business in recognition of Dr. Boston's service to the university. Dr. Boston lives with his family in Austin, Texas.

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