Measuring a Year:
Reflections on 9/11

On September 11, 2001, the Reverend Stuart Hoke stood before a crowd of New Yorkers who had flooded into Trinity Church on Wall Street to seek sanctuary from the holocaust occurring outside. He racked his brain for the right words to comfort and assure the distraught people. “I chose prayers from the Book of Common Prayer—wonderful prayers—strong, meaty prayers,” Hoke said. “And I used hymns that seemed to speak to us and our plight. We had no idea what was happening, who was attacking, or when the bell was going to toll for ourselves.... I was as calm as could be. I kept right on reading.”

A year later, Hoke again stood before a crowd. This time he was in Hendricks Chapel to recount the terrorist attacks and help the University begin a period of reflection. “We never learn a thing from our experience,” Hoke told the gathering. “We only learn by reflecting on that experience—reflection is the key.” Hoke, executive assistant to the rector of Trinity Church, was the keynote speaker who, on September 10, kicked off a weeklong series of events that provided campus members with a coordinated and integrated reflective learning experience.

Steve Sartori

The following morning, the campus community paused for moments of silence at the times when the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon were struck, when United Flight 93 crashed into a field in rural Pennsylvania, and when the towers collapsed. The Crouse Chimes tolled at those times in memory of the 30 SU alumni and others killed in the attacks. At noon, hundreds of students, faculty, and staff filed into Hendricks Chapel for an interfaith memorial service that featured readings from the Bible and the Qur’an, a recitation of the Kaddish, and musical offerings led by the Hendricks Chapel Choir and ECHO, an Alibrandi Catholic Center choral ensemble.

Campus members were also invited to review words and images drawn on the Sheets of Expression by the University community days after the attacks, and to write down their thoughts on new sheets. Many people visited Heroy Geology Laboratory, where a large canvas labyrinth covered the atrium floor. Patterned after the floor of Chartres Cathedral in France, the labyrinth had one path that wound into the center area where visitors could pause for reflection. Others took advantage of opportunities to engage in panel discussions and forums that addressed international conflict and political issues.

The Reverend Thomas V. Wolfe G’02, dean of Hendricks Chapel, organized the events and stressed the importance of ruminating on the terrorist attacks and the ensuing months. “We need to remember and we need to hope,” Wolfe says. “In remembering the past, we’re stranded there without hope, and our hope for the future is groundless without considering the past.”

—Margaret Costello

Steve Sartori

Building Memories
The names of 9/11 victims stretched across one wall of Slocum Hall’s 4th-floor rotunda. Large photographs depicting the tragic day hung from another wall, while maps of downtown Manhattan and proposals for the World Trade Center (WTC) memorial site adorned the back wall. In the middle of the room, 14 architecture students gave a presentation about the WTC.

Led by School of Architecture visiting critic Julian Bonder, the group discussed the history of the WTC towers, described their construction, and explained why the planes’ impact caused the towers to collapse. Participating students explored how the site could be used to serve both as a memorial and a commercial area. “It was important to do this work to consider potentialities and complexities dealing with the WTC site,” Bonder says.

As part of the presentation, the group of senior and graduate students created an interactive memorial, which included hundreds of WTC proposals from around the world that the students gathered from the Internet and then spread on the floor, surrounding a representation of the Twin Towers constructed of “caution” tape. People were encouraged to walk among the proposals and add their own ideas to the memorial. “Memory is what you make of it,” Bonder says. “This interactive experience helps us all remember.”

—Kristen Swing

Community Healing

After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, members from a group of Central New York agencies formed a committee to address the community’s needs and help people heal. The committee was initiated by social work professor Peg Miller of the College of Human Services and Health Professions and members of Hospice of CNY, the Onondaga County Department of Mental Health, a Roman Catholic priest, and the Red Cross. The group ultimately grew to include 18 agencies and became known as CNY Gathers. Among its members were emergency medical technicians, medical personnel, firefighters, police, spiritual leaders, mental health providers, and school personnel.

On the first anniversary of the attacks, CNY Gathers hosted a two-day event, A Time for Renewal, Education, Information, Healing, and Remembrance, which included a 9/11 commemoration in Syracuse’s Clinton Square and a skills-building conference the next day for disaster and crisis workers at Syracuse’s OnCenter. “The conference was fabulous,” Miller says. “Participants built contacts where they never had an opportunity in the past.”

The Clinton Square commemoration featured an hour-long program of music and prayer and an opportunity to remember those who were lost in the attacks and to honor those who responded to the crisis. “We wanted to mark the moment in a subdued way,” says Miller, who is also a co-leader for Disaster Mental Health Services, which offers counseling to disaster victims and crisis responders, such as Red Cross volunteers.

More than 200 people attended the OnCenter conference, which offered training in such areas as trauma response and the spiritual and cultural issues connected to it, helping children in times of crisis, and critical incident stress management. Miller says cooperation among the different groups is crucial, and participants gained a better understanding of each agency and organization. “We are proud to have such a unique collaboration among responders,” she says. “We hope it won’t end with the conference.”

—Lisa Miles

A Garden Grows

A year of planting, mulching, watering, and weeding ended on the first anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks when about 100 students shared a meal made from vegetables harvested from the Sadler Hall Memorial Garden. The garden and ceremonial picnic were part of a project conceived by Sadler Hall resident advisor Michael Farrell (pictured below) last September as a way for students to come together and remember the victims of 9/11. “It was a positive outlet for people to do something productive in memory of the victims,” says Farrell, a SUNY ESF graduate student.

After the garden’s dedication in April, Farrell and a group of about 30 students dug up the patch of grass and weeds outside the residence hall, planted seeds, and maintained the garden throughout the spring and summer. The Lawrinson and Sadler residence hall councils donated $500 in funding, and local businesses donated topsoil and flowers.

Steve Sartori

Despite an extended visit from a hungry groundhog, the crop of corn, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, and other veggies was ripe and ready to be picked for the event. A team of SU Food Services employees and students used the vegetables, along with food donated by Grindstone Farm, a local organic produce grower, to create a buffet of dishes, including eggplant parmesan, potato salad, garden salad, corn on the cob, green beans, and pumpkin pie. “A year ago this day was marked by death and hopelessness,” Father Tim Mulligan of the Alibrandi Catholic Center said before a moment of prayer. “What better symbol of life is there than a garden? A garden itself is such a symbol of newness and renewal.”

Farrell hopes the Sadler garden harvest will become an SU tradition. “This is a positive way to come together and grow from the experience,” he says.

—Cori Bolger

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