This story first appeared on the Daily Campus.
Student honors, volunteers in memory of her father
Ali Williams, Daily Campus, Sept 9 2011
As Christina Rancke planted small American flags in the Meadows Museum sculpture garden alongside her aunt and three young cousins, a smile was on her face.
Holding one of the flags, she crouched down near her cousin's crawling body and took a picture.
She directed other student volunteers in the placement of the 2,977 symbolic markers on the hot and sunny September day.
Rancke did this in honor of her father, Todd Rancke, who died on Sept. 11, when she was just 11 years old.
"It's really important what I'm doing now to myself and my family," Rancke said. "I know they're very proud because we've found a way to turn something so tragic, what happened 10 years ago, and really make a difference from that."
Rancke, a junior majoring in advertising and communications, is an intern at the George W. Bush Presidential Center.
She is also working with the Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility as the student event chair for this year's anniversary of the tragedy.
"My role as student event chair is a way for me to not only honor my father, but a way to honor all those that died that day," Rancke said. "We are able to come together as a community the same way we did 10 years ago."
She said her primary goal is to raise awareness among the students in the SMU community and to get them involved on campus during the commemorative events.
Student volunteers came out on Wednesday to help Rancke set up the flag memorial, a place to meditate and reflect.
"It's very important to remember 9/11 because a lot of people's lives changed that day and they can never get their loved ones back," sophomore volunteer Courtney Blake Warren said.
She also said that seeing other volunteers who are willing to help with the events made her realize how a community can come together.
Warren is a friend of Rancke's.
Sophomore Sam Wood said he volunteered to remember what happened 10 years ago and commemorate the lives that were lost that day.
"On the day of the attack and the days following, America joined together to bounce back from the tragedy that happened. ‘United We Stand,' as the saying goes," he said. "If we don't stay together we're not going to be as strong."
Although Rancke's life was directly impacted when the terrorist attacks took the life of her father, who was working for a financial firm on the 104th floor of the South Tower, she said everyone across the country was affected in some way that day in 2001.
She wants students to know they don't have to experience a loss to participate in the memorial events.
"[I want] to share my story and hopefully inspire many to come out and realize what exactly happened that day and how we've grown," she said.
Although she said she will never fully heal from what happened, she knows everything she's doing on campus is making a difference.
"I'm extremely proud [of her] to be putting everything together," Blake said. "She has the biggest heart."
Rancke believes what she is doing for this year's 9/11 anniversary would definitely make her father proud.
"I did have to grow up quickly as a result of the tragedy," Rancke said. "I learned at a young age to cope with losing a loved one and what I'm doing today with the 9/11 anniversary events on campus is in his honor, as well as the other victims."