The University dedicated a permanent memorial in the rotunda of Anabel Taylor Hall on Friday to commemorate the 21 alumni who lost their lives in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The memorial — which lists the names and class years of the alumni who died — creates a space on campus where people can “visit, remember and reflect” on the tragedy, according to Zach Leighton ’15, a member of the organizing committee.
As an undergraduate, Leighton said he pushed for the University to create a permanent memorial to pay tribute to the alumni lost in the attacks. He was also a member of President Barack Obama’s advance team for the dedication ceremony of the National September 11 Memorial Museum in 2014.
“Creating a permanent memorial 15 years later is a true testament to the fact that we will never forget,” he said, adding that the memorial highlights the “deep connection” the University has fostered with New York City.
In addition to the memorial, the University also established a Sept. 11 Memorial Scholarship for undergraduates as a part of its 9/11 initiative. The scholarship was awarded for the first time to Michael Golden ’20 this fall, according to Susan Murphy ’73, vice president emerita for student and academic services.
Speakers at the ceremony honored the alumni and their families, announced the undergraduate endowed scholarship and unveiled the permanent memorial and plaque of recognition.
Interim President Hunter Rawlings, who was University president in 2001 at the time of the attacks, was a particularly moving presence at the dedication, said Anne DiGiacomo ’80, senior director, special project and diversity fundraising.
“I think in recalling what he felt and the role he played in ensuring that the student body, faculty and staff could grieve as well as acknowledge that they would need to support each other, then ultimately move forward without forgetting those who were lost, intersected beautifully and appropriately at the ceremony,” she said.
Bonnie McEneaney M.P.S. ’78, a widow of Eamon McEneaney ’77, who died on 9/11, also spoke at the ceremony on behalf of her own family and others affected by the attack, calling the memorial a “permanent place for reflection,” according to DiGiacomo.
In response to McEneaney’s speech, DiGiacomo said there was a “ripple effect” that went through ceremony attendees.
“[McEneaney’s speech] prompted everyone to sit back, reflect and think about what this meant,” she said. “For the family members to see that they are part of the Cornell community, as we remembered and celebrated their loved ones and to see the good come from it, in the establishment of an undergraduate scholarship, was a pretty amazing moment and touched us all.”
Leighton encouraged the Cornell community to visit the memorial in Anabel Taylor Hall to pay their respects to the 21 alumni.
“The memorial provides a permanent home where we can remember our alumni who were lost that day,” Murphy said. “It helps the families know that Cornell has not forgotten their family members.”