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University of Central Missouri
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Warrensburg, MO 64093
Phone: 660-543-4640
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Terrorist Attacks of 9/11 Awaken, Resurge Nation to Protect Freedoms

Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (Sept. 12, 2016) – While the people of this nation remember the thousands of individuals who perished and were injured due to terrorist attacks on American soil Sept. 11, 2001, this tragedy also marked a great awakening and the end of complacency in the United States. It signifies a new chapter in an ongoing fight to remain free.

Brig. Gen. Arnold Gordon-Bray
Brig. Gen. Arnold Gordon-Bray

This was the message University of Central Missouri Distinguished Alumnus Brig. Gen. Arnold N. Gordon-Bray (Ret.) provided to a crowd of faculty, staff, students and community residents who gathered in Hendricks Hall for the Pre-Patriot Day ceremony Friday, Sept. 9. The event allowed UCM and the community to join together in observing the 15th anniversary of the tragic events that occurred when terrorists hijacked airplanes that crashed and killed people in separate incidents in Manhattan, N.Y.; Shanksville, Pa.; and at the U.S. Pentagon in Arlington, Va.

Pre-Patriot Day was coordinated by UCM’s Office of Military and Veteran Services and, in addition to Gordon-Bray’s keynote remarks, included participation from Warrensburg Mayor Casey Renfrow, who served as Master of Ceremonies; UCM Provost-Chief Learning Officer Deborah Curtis, who welcomed the gathering; the Lee’s Summit High School Armed Exhibition Drill Team which performed under the leadership of Tech Sgt. Joel Estes, U.S. Air Force; members of UCM’s Army ROTC Color Guard and Lt. Col. Jason Christenson, professor, Military Science and Leadership, who provided a moment of reflection; Warrensburg Police Chief Rich Lockhart, and  Warrensburg Assistant Fire Chief Doyle Oxley, who both spoke; Jacob Goodwin, a member of  Warrensburg Boy Scout Troop 513 who played Taps; and UCM alumna Candace Fowler, who sang the National Anthem. Members of Johnson County, Warrensburg, and Whiteman Air Force Base fire departments and other first responders also participated in on-stage activities.

“We all remember the day America cried,” Gordon-Bray said. “More important, we gather today to remember the patriots who gave their full measure to wake us up.”  

The longtime military officer said most people will always remember what they were doing on 9/11 when they heard the news about the terrorist attacks. It came during a week where headlines had previously focused on issues that included a Hollywood actor being accused of his wife’s murder, but not charged; a celebrity driving her car into a crowd in front of a night club at Long Island, NY; and a well-known U.S. Congressman denying an affair with a 24-year-old female.

“Our mind wasn’t on anything about this nation,” Gordon-Bray noted, but that was about to change.

 “I remember immediately someone started saying we are now in a war on terror. In the minutes, days and hours that followed, we were able to understand who and what organizations were behind the terrorist attacks. But as a student of conflict - and there’s where we are today - I adamantly contended then and I state now that wasn’t our war. We are in a war of ideals. We are fighting for the very core of America’s freedom,” Gordon-Bray said.

“As this is Pre-Patriot Day let’s ensure that we plainly articulate  that 9/11 marked the end of complacency, and a resurgence for the ideals of the pursuit of our individualized rights of life, liberty, and our individual pursuit of happiness,” he told the crowd.

 “Happiness is a spiritual state unencumbered by our fear of difference. What we are fighting against are those who feel the rules of a single religion should become the laws of a nation…It’s not about individual faith and practice. It’s about a collective body believing the rules of their faith should be the enforceable laws of a state,” Gordon-Bray said.

“We the patriots, unlike radical extremists of any religion, believe that there is a separation of church and state and every individual has the right to retain their religious practices as long as they don’t interfere with another person or state law.

“As a patriot, you must understand that this was so fundamentally important to our founding fathers that they specified in an amazing document, The Constitution, that established the framework of the government that we have today,” Gordon-Bray said. He then read excerpts of the Bill of Rights.

He noted that “For too long, we have made 9/11 almost its own individual war event. We sometimes focus too much on the dead and what happened. We need to recognize 9/11 for what it was and what it is. 9/11 was a resurrection of what made us a great nation.”

Gordon-Bray told the crowed 9/11 terrorists were “hoping that we would not be the land of the free, that we would quit being a beacon for the idea of separation between church and state. They want us to act out of fear. They want us to be afraid to be a free people, to be afraid of our differences. I want to tell them they failed. They failed every day when we get on a plane. They fail every day we walk into a football stadium. They fail every time we step into a shopping center and walk down the aisle. They failed when we proclaim that we will not let our nation be ruled by a particular religion and we defend others’ rights to worship their god as personally as possible. The failed as we treat others with respect and with appropriate levels of dignity, regardless of how we look or who we believe in.

“9/11 put us back on the path to greatness. 9/11 made us realize that freedom is not free. 9/11 gave us a greater appreciation of these freedoms as we grapple with how to balance safety with freedom. 9/11 made us recognize that personal spirituality is one of the personal assurances of being an American.”  

Brig. Gen. Gordon-Bray is a UCM graduate who was honored in 2012 as a UCM Distinguished Alumnus. He earned a bachelor’s degree in art from UCM plus master’s degrees from the U.S. Air War College and the Naval War College. He culminated his career in a Four-Star Headquarters in the U.S. Africa Command, headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany. As a military leader, he commanded at every level, ranging from a platoon of 40 men to a Brigade Combat Team of 4,500 men and women in the famed 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions. He held staff positions that included the Joint Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, N.C., and the Installation Management Command, headquartered in San Antonio, for all Army bases worldwide. He is an Airborne Ranger with numerous awards and badges including the Army Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Army’s highest peacetime award; the Defense Superior Service Medal; multiple Legions of Merit and two Bronze Stars.