September 12, 2003

Students Remember, Contemplate Sept. 11

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The mood on campus was somber yesterday as students remembered the catastrophic events of Sept. 11, 2001. To commemorate the day, several events that were free and open to the public were held on the Cornell campus. These events included a commemoration ceremony, a lecture on the current political state of Afghanistan and prayer and silent meditation in Sage Chapel.

The main event of the day was the Sept. 11 commemoration held at the Memorial Room in the Straight. The ceremony, led by Kenneth Clarke, director of Cornell United Religious Work, included remarks from Prof. Cynthia Farina, law; Student Assembly president Nick Linder ’05; and Gavin Hurley grad, president of the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly. The speakers were followed by a performance by the Sage Chapel Choir.

“We were affected individually by this tragedy. We have a need to come together as a community. We gather together attempting to make whatever sense we can of the absurd, the unthinkable, the tragedy,” Clarke said.

Linder opened his speech by posing a question to the audience.

“We’ll begin today by asking a question: What are we doing here? That’s easy. We’re here to commemorate those who lost their lives two years ago,” he said. “I want you to think back right now to the days following Sept. 11. What did you do? More importantly, what did you do differently than you did a week before?”

He continued his speech by suggesting that people remember the feelings of hope and unity that they felt in the days directly following the attacks.

Hurley agreed with Linder’s statements, saying, “I think what we should commemorate is the positive unity in the days afterward.”

“The goal was to provide an opportunity for the community to gather for the 9/11 tragedy and to be galvanized collectively through words and music,” Clarke told The Sun.

As the ceremony closed, a short concert from the McGraw Tower Chimes could be heard throughout campus. The chimes played patriotic songs including “God Bless America” and concluded with Cornell’s “Alma Mater.”

Also held in the morning was an organized moment of silence at the Johnson Graduate School of Management. Also, L. Joseph Thomas, associate dean of academic affairs at the school and Prof. Nicholas H. Noyes, manufacturing, spoke in Sage Hall to commemorate the day.

Later in the afternoon, Prof. Muna Ndulo, law, spoke to a large crowd in Myron Taylor Hall about the current political state of Afghanistan. Showing pictures of his recent time spent there, Ndulo spoke of the history of the country and the current events that have thrust Afghanistan to the forefront of political affairs.

“The war on terrorism is not going to be won by armed conflict,” Ndulo said. He also spoke of the concern for women’s rights in Afghanistan, posing the question, “How do you ensure that women participate in the political process?”

For those who were unable to attend the organized ceremonies yesterday, Sage Chapel was open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. — with lit candles to honor those who died — to provide an appropriate setting for personal prayer and reflection.

While there were many events going on around campus, some students complained that they were not aware of the many things they could do.

“Classes are going on regularly. I went to class and everything was normal,” said Ritu Jain grad. “I thought there would be a candlelight ceremony. I think it was pretty low-key here.”

Jillian Goodman ’06 also commented on the amount of publicity surrounding yesterday’s events.

“I think it was not well-publicized as to what was going on to commemorate the events,” she said. “As a New Yorker, I feel strongly about the commemoration and the remembrance of this occasion. However, it does not surprise me that things were not publicized because I think that outsiders don’t feel as strongly about what happened.”

“I thought of Sept. 11 this morning,” Jain said, “and I thought, ‘My God. It has been two years. It feels so distant because life moves on.'”

Archived article by Erica Temel