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BSC 9/11 symposium will explore Midwest experience Sept. 9-11

Posted on 8/19/2011

9/11 symposium logo
Planes didn't devastate the Midwest on September 11, 2001, but terrorists changed the lives of North Dakotans forever.

Bismarck State College, The Dakota Institute of Lewis & Clark Fort Mandan Foundation and other partners have joined to host "September 11 Ten Years Later: Impact on the Heartland" Sept. 9-11.

The two-day, regional symposium takes place at BSC and will examine from a humanities perspective what happened that day and how it affected America's heartland. National figures from the military, media, law, literary and education fields have been asked to speak from their perspectives. To register, visit

A commemorative observance is planned for Sunday morning, Sept. 11, at Double Ditch Indian Village State Historic Site, seven miles north of Bismarck on Highway 1804, between 7:30 and 9:30 a.m. A car caravan leaves BSC at 7 a.m.

Personal stories of 100 individuals talking about how 9/11 affected their lives are being filmed for a documentary that will run throughout the symposium. BSC videographer Dusty Anderson is capturing these personal stories at a series of events around the state this summer.

Among the notable voices adding to the Midwest reflection:

Peter Bergen, renowned print and broadcast journalist, produced his first television interview with Osama bin Laden in 1997. He is CNN's national security analyst and a research fellow at New York University's Center on Law & Security. Bergen wrote "Holy War, Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden" and "The Osama bin Laden I Know: An Oral History of Al Qaeda's Leader."

Lt. Col. Dean Eckmann, North Dakota Air National Guard's 119th Fighter Wing ("Happy Hooligans"), was one of the first pilots who flew over the Pentagon after the attack on Sept. 11, 2001.

Lorry Fenner was a staff member on the 9/11 Commission. She is currently director of the Conflict Records Research Center and a senior research fellow under the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University.

Chuck Roberts, broadcast news journalist, reported on 9/11 for CNN's "Headline News" at its world headquarters in Atlanta. Roberts is the longest-serving anchor among CNN networks and led coverage for all national elections from CNN's sign-on in 1982 to his retirement in 2010.

Gen. Charles Wald, a North Dakotan and North Dakota State University graduate, was commander of U.S. Air Force units serving in the Middle East the day of the attacks. He is now director and senior advisor to the aerospace and defense industries for Deloitte LLP, and a specialist in counter terrorism, weapons procurement and deployment, and national, energy and international security policy.

Manochehr Dorraj is professor of international affairs and Middle Eastern studies, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth. He is an expert on economics and American-Muslim relations.

Chris Bailey, attorney at law, is permanent faculty of intelligence and ethics at National Intelligence University, Defense Intelligence Agency, Washington, D.C.

Thomas Frank, author of "What's the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America," explores the relationship between politics and culture. He is a journalist and columnist with Harper's magazine and former columnist for the Wall Street Journal.

Martin Loken serves as Canada's consul general in Minneapolis. He is Canada's senior representative in the Upper Midwest and leads a team specializing in trade negotiations.

Gerard Jacobs, expert in the psychological impact of disasters, is director of the Disaster Mental Health Institute and professor of international affairs at the University of South Dakota, Vermillion.

Timothy Purdon, U.S. attorney for North Dakota, works for the U.S. Department of Justice on issues related to border security between the U.S. and Canada.

Geoffrey Wawro, war commentator and blogger for The Huffington Post, is author of "Quicksand: America's Pursuit of Power in the Middle East" and professor of military history at University of North Texas, Denton.

Julia Ernst, attorney at law, is a constitutional law expert and assistant professor of law at the University of North Dakota School of Law.

Representatives from the Canadian and Jordanian embassies and others will discuss the stress on international relations caused by the attack. A panel of North Dakota's former and current state and federal leaders, including U.S. Sen. John Hoeven and Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley, will outline their activities and perspectives on 9/11. Another segment will feature individuals sharing personal experiences.

Other program highlights are an evening with Peter Bergen, a concert, a photography exhibit, open mike sessions, and live reports from the crash sites in New York City, Washington and Pennsylvania.

Bergen speaks about his work and latest book, "The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict Between America and Al-Qaeda," in a public program Friday, Sept. 9, at 7:30 p.m. in BSC's Sidney J. Lee Auditorium. Admission is free with registration or $10 per person at the door.

The Bismarck-Mandan Symphony Orchestra performs Mozart's Requiem Mass in D minor and other works at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 10 at Belle Mehus City Auditorium, downtown Bismarck. Joining the symphony are the Bismarck-Mandan Civic Chorus and four guest soloists: baritone Edward Huls, tenor Kevin Courtemanche, mezzo-soprano Eunjoo Lee and soprano Jane Thorngren. BSC has a block of reserved seats. For those not holding symphony season tickets, the cost of the concert is $29 with tickets available at the symposium registration link at

Photographs by international photojournalist and film producer Andrea Booher are on display, as well as the front pages of more than two dozen newspapers with 9/11 headlines collected by John Irby, Bismarck Tribune editor. Booher spent 10 weeks at Ground Zero in the aftermath of the World Trade Center attack. She was one of two photographers with unlimited access. Her photos were published worldwide in major magazines, newspapers and documentaries.

Online registration closes Sept. 5. The fee is $50 for both presentation days, which includes box lunches and light continental breakfasts Friday and Saturday. More information is available at or by calling BSC at 701-224-5600.

Major funding is provided by Whiting Petroleum Corporation.

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