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With Waves of Flags Comes Great Responsibility

Woman crying alone on 9-11 during Waves of Flags


As the world observed the 17th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks on American soil, it is a time for the Pepperdine community to reflect on what this day means.  Nestled along the Pacific coastline, Pepperdine is renowned for having the most beautiful campus in the country.  And our annual Waves of Flags installation featuring 2,977 flags to honor each of the 9/11 victims is a stunning tribute to the fallen on one of the darkest dates in American history.

However, as members of the Pepperdine community, we must ask more of ourselves than a metaphoric nod of appreciation toward the sea of red, white, and blue banners overlooking PCH.  Why?  From the Bible, Luke 12:48 tells us that, "But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes.  For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more."  Or, many of you may recognize a distilled version of that sentiment from Spider-Man: "With great power comes great responsibility."

More Than a Memory

As a university that lives by the mission statement of purpose, service, and leadership, this is a time to reflect on how those core values help us through the most challenging times and provide us with the tools to inspire the world, one step, one person, or one project at a time.  The Waves of Flags installation is a tangible opportunity to engage with the global community as people from around Southern California and around the world come to Pepperdine to visit our tribute to the fallen.

Everyone has their own recollection of September 11, 2001.  It's a moment frozen in time. People remember what they were doing, who they were with, and how the flood of news washed over them as the tragedy unfolded on national TV.  The repercussions from that Tuesday morning and the days, weeks, and months that followed resonate with us 17 years later.  On September 11, 2018, Santa Monica resident and former New Yorker Angie Correa felt the need to come to Pepperdine and experience the Waves of Flags installment as she paid her respects to the lost.

"It was one of the most tragic things that's happened to our country," said Correa.  "But I think being there and knowing how we came together as a community, and how we got through it, that's what humanity looks like and what our country looks like.  I can't be with my family and my friends on the east coast," Correa noted.  "This is my way of just kind of giving love and support to all the families out there that are at the memorial today."

It can be very easy to look down from the Malibu campus this month and see the breathtaking ocean of flags waving in the breeze, and feel a special sense of pride in being part of the Pepperdine community.  It can be even easier to forget that each flag represents a human life that was taken from this earth...to see a forest instead of 2,977 individual memorial trees.  This month, consider spending time among the Waves of Flags or at our Heroes Garden and sharing the experience with the people around you.  As Angie Correa noted during her visit, "If you are in or around Malibu, this is an experience you must have once in your life..."