I still remember where I was on September 11th, 2001 when I found out about the attacks. I had just gone to my Latin class (which ironically enough my teacher is one of my only teacher Facebook friends) and she had the TV on. We saw the second tower get hit and that’s when I requested to leave class to call my dad (he had an upcoming NY trip and I didn’t know if he was there already). He ended up being in Washington, DC and safe. My close friend Jordan’s dad was a very close call as his office at the Pentagon was close enough to catch fire from the impact. I remembered my frustration being a junior in High School at the time and doing nothing to help rebuild or remember NYC or DC.
My chance to make a difference came soon enough. When I arrived on campus at Ithaca College in 2003, I joined the Ithaca College Republicans club. In one of our first meetings, I was appalled to find that Ithaca College (despite being in New York state) had *no* formal September 11th memorial. It struck me as very sad that the college wouldn’t do anything to remember the tragedy. I came up with an idea to turn off 6 of the 8 fountains on the campus and leave them running all day long, and having a candlelight vigil service that evening. With the help of the ICR and a couple of my freshman hallmates, we managed to convince the grounds crew at Ithaca to turn off the fountains/modify them on short notice.
The outpouring of emotion at our first memorial was unforgettable. Since almost half of Ithaca’s students came from New York state, we had people who had lost family members, friends, and cousins in the crowd. Some of us spoke about our experiences and our feelings during the tragedy. Some spoke about loved ones lost. Others spoke about the fear they couldn’t shake since that day. Most left candles at the base of the fountain at the end of the service.
It was a very cathartic vigil to attend.
Every year after that, we pestered the administration to change the fountain schedule on September 11th (which I believe is the only time they ever change it). I was very happy to hear the year that I graduated (2007) that the administration had officially adopted the fountain tribute (so we no longer had to ask) and would make it part of a larger memorial service on the campus.
I still remember that day. I will never forget.
Please don’t forget that day either.
- 11 September 2001 Saw From Space (socyberty.com)