9/11 remembrance draws small but empathic crowd

| Editor-in-Chief

Michael Tabb | Student Life

The Pikers perform during the 9/11 memorial Sunday afternoon in Ursa’s Cafe.

While a miscommunication forced organizers to create an event from scratch in two weeks and thus led to a significantly decreased turnout from last year, students said they still found this year’s Sept. 11 memorial valuable and hope it will continue in future years.

Last year’s event, hosted in Edison Theatre, brought together about 300 students to mark the 10th anniversary of the attacks. This year’s event, featuring performances from three a cappella groups and a speech by professor Peter Benson, was held Sunday afternoon in Ursa’s Café for a crowd of about 20.

The event was initially supposed to be organized by the University, but students who had been in charge of the memorial in previous years found out at the end of the summer that nothing had actually been planned. While some said they were disappointed with the heavily decreased turnout, they were relieved that the event was still able to occur and adapt.

Senior John Mern, one of the event’s organizers said that although it may no longer be necessary to hold a strict 9/11 “memorial,” it is as important as ever to remember the benefits of coming together.

“It wasn’t the emotions that I felt on 9/11, but all the days following it that really mattered. Yes, the emotions that we felt on Sept. 11 were by far the strongest, but those were feelings of anger, of hatred, of fear. And luckily those feelings, they faded. It was the feelings that we felt on the later days that really helped to bring us together as a community, that I thought needed to be highlighted by some event on campus,” Mern said.

He quoted the late James McLeod’s response to the Sept. 11 attacks: “Love each other, love each other, love each other.”

Professor Peter Benson, whose words closed the event, said that the attacks in many ways shaped his graduate education in anthropology, which was actually delayed because of the attacks.

“I’m an anthropologist, so I look at society and culture; that’s my thing I like to study. And I think here’s a really good example of how big events can define for people a certain kind of perspective on life. Like, we talk about post-9/11, and it can mean a lot of different things, depending on how that phrase is used, but it’s distinctive and definitive of some kind of a feeling that something in the world is changed,” Benson said.

Senior Rachel Koren, who attended last year’s event as well, said it is important to remember the significance of 9/11 moving forward.

“I think the fact that time is passing…doesn’t make it any less or differently important. I think it’s something that’s important every year,” Koren said. “It’s almost a shame to think that it might become something like Labor Day…how Labor Day has just become a day off of school, when really it should be about remembering more than that.”

Junior Michael Angone, who sang at the event with the Mosaic Whispers, shared those sentiments.

“I think it’s very important for us to not forget what happened and to be able to have a time to really reflect on it and think about it and sort of what it means in our life today,” Angone said.

Angone expressed hopes that the event might even expand in the future and become more well known.

“It would be great if it could be a bigger, campus-wide thing, which I guess would just sort of depend on how things are advertised and whether people know about it. Because I think it’s something that if people know it’s going on, they would be interested in being a part of it or coming to hear what people have to say,” Angone said.

Seniors John Mern, who introduced a campus 9/11 memorial two years ago, and Jannina Phi, who planned most of this year’s event, have yet to find a student to take over the planning process once they graduate, but are confident that some sort of event marking Sept. 11 will continue for at least a few more years.

“We hope that it evolves into something more than a memorial, something that will add continued value to the campus,” Mern said. “‘Sept. 11 memorial’ has a narrower appeal to people than I think the broader event of promoting human dignity and respect would.”