Earl Johnson was on the 51st floor of the World Trade Center’s North Tower when it was struck by one of the hijacked airliners on Sept. 11, 2001.
On Tuesday, the sixth anniversary of the terrorist attacks, Johnson will relate “Stairwell to Heaven: A 9-11 World Trade Center Survivor’s Story of Escape” at BGSU. He is scheduled to speak at 9:25 p.m. in the Lenhart Grand Ballroom of the Bowen-Thompson Student Union.
Johnson’s appearance is part of a 9-11 Never Forget Ceremony and Candlelight Vigil on campus. Hosted by the BGSU College Republicans and the Young America’s Foundation, the memorial service is free and open to the public.
Johnson’s career in the financial services industry took him from Bainbridge Island, Wash., to New York City in 2001. After 9-11, he and his family returned to Bainbridge Island, just across Puget Sound from Seattle, and, inspired by the sacrifice he had witnessed that September morning, Johnson ran for and was elected a commissioner of the island’s fire department. He turned his attention to public speaking following the publication of his book, Stairwell to Heaven.
At BGSU, 9-11 memorial events will begin with a campuswide moment of silence at 9:11 a.m. Tuesday. From noon to 2 p.m., nearly 3,000 American flags—one for each of the attacks’ victims—will be placed around the Union Oval, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., donations may be made to the 9-11 Victims’ Fund at tables in the Union.
“United 93,” the film about the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania after passengers attempted to overtake the hijackers, will be shown at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. in the ballroom.
The evening program will start at 9:11 p.m. with the Pledge of Allegiance and singing of the National Anthem. At 9:15 p.m., the Rev. Michael Dandurand, pastor at St. Thomas More University Parish, will discuss “9-11 and How It Shapes Our Faith.”
After Johnson’s talk will be a time for recognition of members of the armed forces and law enforcement agencies, firefighters, and their families. A slide presentation is set for 10 p.m., followed by silent adjournment to the Union Oval at 10:15 p.m. for the candlelight vigil. There, the ceremony will conclude with a memorial prayer, music by the BGSU Men’s Chorus, presentation of arms, a moment of silence and the playing of taps.