University Honors Fallen Heroes

“For the future of our nation and in reverence of the past, we remember,” said Undergraduate Student Government Association president Parker Johnson.

University students, faculty, and staff gathered in the Alumni Lounge on Sept. 11 to remember the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, and honor those who died in the attack.

“As the classes graduate, and as generations cycle through, it is important to continue the memory and never forget the lives lost on that day,” said Sarah Flynn, senior mechanical engineering major. “Next fall, for the first time,the freshman class will have learned about 9/11 as an event that happened before they were born.”

It was a day where everything stopped,

— Sarah Flynn

The first student memorial, held the night of the attacks in 2001, was a candlelight vigil. The next year, a memorial tree was planted and a gathering has taken place every year since. Martin O’Connor, campus chaplain, spoke about the first time the university community gathered “simply to pause, simply to remember so many lives lost, so many lives change.”

“Each year I remember September 11, 2001, a beautiful sunny day with blue sky, which saw students in shock and seeking each other out for comfort, trying frantically to reach family members, rushing to their cars to drive to New York and, the University community gathering that evening in a filled Bixler/Gerber Quad for a candlelight vigil,” said Rebecca Johnson, vice president of student affairs and dean of students.

The university color guard presented the colors, and Flynn and Michael Desir, freshman music and sound recording major, performed the National Anthem.

The ceremony has always been student-run, and this year was no different. Brooke Lombardo, vice president of the American Criminal Justice Association reminded the crowd that “we are all American.”

Jonathan Matyasich, president of the fire science club, shared the story of Steven Siler, a New York firefighter who gave his life after going back into the towers multiple times to rescue people. His motto, “while we have time, let us do good,” resonated with the crowd.

The annual 9/11 Ceremony is a time in which the campus community stands united in order to achieve a common goal: to never forget,

— Parker Johnson

Capt. Christopher Mace, assistant professor of military science, spoke about what the campus community can take away from the attack.

“We also remember that we will not allow that day to turn us towards hate,” said Mace.

University Provost Dan May spoke to the crowd on behalf of President Steven Kaplan about Dan Holdridge, a university alumnus who survived the attack at the Pentagon, and wrote a poem entitled “Pentagon Prayers” about his experience. Holdridge centered his work around the saying “You don’t have to survive a terror attack to learn from one.” May emphasized the importance of public service careers in these situations and thanked the                                                                                        university students majoring in a public service field.

“If nothing else, the ceremony is important to have on this campus because it reminds us that all the times where nothing is certain and tomorrow is not guaranteed, we are all one campus, we are all one community, we are all one people regardless of the hate being spread through this world,” said Flynn.

The ceremony ended with a procession from the Alumni Lounge to the memorial tree across from the Beckerman Recreation Center, where people planted small American flags. University student Ben Grasso played “Taps” before a final bell was rung to end the ceremony.