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Pepperdine Honors Lives Lost on 9/11 with Remembrance Ceremony, Waves of Flags Display



September 11, 2023 – Malibu, CA – More than 1,000 members of the Pepperdine community gathered together on the Malibu campus today to commemorate the lives lost on September 11, 2001, at the 16th annual 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony.

“On this day, we come together as a community as our nation came together in the wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001,” said University president Jim Gash. “We remember each life that was taken from husbands and wives, sisters and brothers, and from children who would never know their mother or father. We come together as a testimony of unity, resolve, and resilience. In the midst of these flags, may we embrace the precious gift of life and our God-given purpose to love and to serve.”

This year, Pepperdine welcomed a distinguished honoree, actor and producer Chris Pratt.

“My hope today is that the heroes of 9/11 and their families and loved ones feel supported and honored,” said Chris Pratt. “I hope that a fire is lit in the hearts and minds of young people who never felt the 9/11 effect, as we experienced in the wake of such devastation, when our nation responded with faith, unity, and selfless service.”

During the ceremony, Pepperdine student Colton Cherry planted the final flag in honor of his father Stephen Cherry, who died in the attacks on September 11, 2001.

The University’s annual Waves of Flags display commemorates each of the 2,977 lives lost in the 9/11 terror attacks with one US flag for each victim who perished, plus 90 foreign flags representing countries who lost citizens in the attack.

The Waves of Flags tradition began in 2008 when the Pepperdine College Republicans wanted to pay tribute to the lives lost on 9/11. For more than a decade, Waves of Flags has been an annual act of service for the Pepperdine, Malibu, and surrounding communities.

On September 2, a group of more than 200 volunteers, including Pepperdine alumni, faculty, staff, students, and Malibu community members, joined together to raise the flags. 

In addition to the Waves of Flags display, Pepperdine is the 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. The garden's plaque reads: “Dedicated to freedom's heroes of September 11, 2001, and the passengers of United Airlines Flight 93, among them Pepperdine alumnus Thomas E. Burnett, Jr., who sacrificed their lives to overcome terrorists’ intent on destroying American lives and landmarks in our nation's capital. We shall never forget.”

Waves of Flags is open to the public for viewing and visitation at the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Malibu Canyon Road until Thursday, September 21, 2023. Media assets from the remembrance ceremony can be found here.

About Pepperdine University
Founded in 1937, Pepperdine University is an independent, Christian university located 30 miles west of Downtown Los Angeles in scenic Malibu, California. The University enrolls approximately 10,300 students across its flagship liberal arts school, Seaver College; the Caruso School of Law; the Graziadio Business School; the Graduate School of Education and Psychology; and the School of Public Policy. Pepperdine is committed to the highest standards of academic excellence and Christian values, where students are strengthened for lives of purpose, service, and leadership. Follow Pepperdine on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.


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