PIKE Reflects On 9/11 From Winter 2001 S&D Issue

In honor of those impacted by the national tragedy on 9/11, we look back at how the Fraternity responded 17 years ago.


Newseum exhibit displaying front page headlines that circulated throughout the United States the day after 9/11. Washington, D.C.

Davis G. Sezna Tragically Killed At World Trade Center

Story Featured in Sports Illustrated Davis G. "Deeg" Sezna Jr. (Vanderbilt, Sigma '98) had started work in the World Trade Center just two weeks prior to the attack as an account manager with Sandler O'Neil and Partners, a financial services company on the 104th floor of World Trade Center Tower Two. His story was featured in the September 24, 2001 issue of Sports Illustrated in a three-page story called "Unplayable Lies." Sezna's father, Davis G. Sezna Sr. , is one of the United States' most prominent amateur golfers. Sadly, Deeg is the second son the Sezna's lost in 2001, the other, Teddy, to a sailing accident.

In Remembrance

James B. Reilly (William and Mary, Gamma '95) worked for Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, Inc., a financial services company on the 89th floor of World Trade Center Tower Two.Davis G. "Deeg" Sezna, Jr. (Vanderbilt,Sigma '98) had started work just two weeks prior to the attack as an account manager with Sandler O'Neil and Partners, a financial services company on the 104th floor of World Trade CenterTower Two. John M. Grazioso (Florida Tech, Zeta Sigma '81) worked for the firm of Cantor Fitzgerald at World Trade Center Tower One.

Fireman Smith at Ground Zero

Patrick Smith (Auburn, Upsilon '97), a former Auburn, Alabama fireman ,used his firefighting and rescue skills at Ground Zero to assist the FDNY and NYPD. Most of the time was spent passing
buckets of debris for inspection by police dogs or officials. Smith was in New York for a total of three weeks but left when Mayor Rudy Giuliani limited access to Ground Zero to New York personnel only. Currently, Smith works as network analyst in Atlanta, Georgia, but hopes to return to New York. About his experience at Ground Zero, Smith recalls, "I had the very unique opportunity to work alongside the worlds greatest f1remen and rescue personnel. I only wish it was under better Circumstances. I moved hundreds of buckets of debris as well as many body bags, and cut some of the most twisted, jagged metal I've ever seen. I can't find words to describe what the area actually looks like. The TV shots in no way portray the actual mass that the steel and concrete make up, some mounds standing five to seven stones tall. Fires randomly lit up, and at one point I could see three ambulances, two fire engines, and two ladder trucks that were completely destroyed and half buried in debris."

A Letter To Pi Kappa Alpha

Editor's Note: Gary Penisten (Nebraska-Omaha, Delta Chi '52) is a former assistant secretary of the Navy. Penisten was appointed by President Gerald Ford, and was officed at the Pentagon. He offers his thoughts on the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Dear Pi Kappa Alpha,

The horrific terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon changed our daily routines and our perception of the importance of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Our feelings and sensibilities scream out at the insanity of what happened. Americans and other peace-loving people are intensely saddened, and to an extent frightened, at the unimaginable loss of life. The recovery process will be like the war against terrorism-unending.

In the midst of this great turmoil are acts of heroism that will live longer than the pain - New York's finest are the finest. Firefighters, police, military personnel and others who worked nonstop on rescue and other operations at the World Trade Center and Pentagon are all heroes. We must never forget their efforts that continue today.
My early thoughts were focused on the Pentagon where I'd worked for the U.S. Navy for 33 months in the mid-70s. My old office was on the outer wall, or "E" ring, of the far end of the side adjacent to the side that was hit. Despite the survival of high-ranking officers and Presidential appointees, the losses both in the Pentagon and on the hijacked plane are tragic.

While I don't want to downplay the tragic events, "the show must go on." The work of the Pentagon, New York City and the nation must be conducted. Of course we, along with most of the free world, have accepted a heightened burden of ridding the globe of terrorism. It is no small task, but we must be prepared to pursue this goal from here on. President Bush has set the right tone - no compromise.

One lasting thought I took from my days with the Navy is that military personnel are ultra-patriotic servants that will fight to the end for the ideals of our great country. Immediately after September 11, rest assured that the military reacted quickly and is now doing a job that will be done with conviction and professionalism.

Gary D. Penisten

To read the full article, download the PDF here.

For more information contact the Pi Kappa Alpha Foundation at (901) 748-1948 or pikeinfo@pikes.org