Twelve years ago today, the 9/11 terrorist attacks devastated not only New York City, but the entire nation and the world. As we remember that fateful day, its direct impact on our smaller community at Cornell should not be overlooked. While others have successfully memorialized the victims of the 9/11 attacks, it is notable that no permanent memorial exists to honor the 20 alumni Cornell lost on that terrible Tuesday.
We lost alumni who, during their time at Cornell, served as a captain of the football team, an All-American lacrosse player, a fraternity president, a member of the equestrian team and more. All walked along the same paths we do, all dealt with the same winters, all were beloved Cornellians. Cornell alumni also gave their lives in the U.S. military action that followed the 9/11 attacks. We lost Captain Richard Gannon ’95 and Captain George Wood ’93 in Iraq. But the names of these fallen service members do not appear on any war memorial on campus.
Today, no rock, bench or garden exists to remind the current student body of the lost Cornellians who came before them. Other universities across the country, many with fewer ties to New York City — from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to Boston College to several SUNY schools — have erected memorial structures honoring those they lost in the 9/11 attacks. A large-scale tragedy like 9/11 can be difficult to fathom due to the sheer breadth of its impact and its incomprehensibly high death toll. Nevertheless, physical tributes can serve as visible reminders to students that the tragedy took its toll directly on their respective campuses.
The University awards some scholarships in honor of 9/11 victims, but those hidden memorials are surely less effective at commemorating the victims’ place in the larger Cornell community. While a memorial may not prevent some natural erosion of the connection between future Cornellians and their fallen fellow alumni, it would create a central location for both annual remembrance ceremonies and daily personal reflection. Putting names to the 20 Cornell victims would be one way to ensure that they do not go unrecognized. With the passage of time, a memorial could lessen the risk of losing these individuals from our collective memory.
In honor of those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001, we remember our fellow Cornellians: Christopher Ciafardini, MBA ’99, Janice Ashley ’98, Swede Chevalier ’98, Jennifer Tzemis ’96, Balewa Blackman ’96, Kaleen Pezzuti ’95, Joshua Aron ’94, Stuart Lee ’93, Frederic Gabler ’93, M. Blake Wallens ’92, Elvin Romero ’88, Sean Lynch ’87, Joni Cesta ’85 Edward Felt, MS ’83, Virginia Ormiston-Kenworthy, MEE ’82, Michael Tanner ’79, Eamon McEneaney ’77, Arlene Joseph Fried ’74, Donald Havlish, Jr. ’70, Kristin Osterholm White Gould ’57.
Geoffrey Block ’14, a midshipman in Cornell’s Navy ROTC program, contributed to this editorial. If you are interested in helping to shape The Sun’s editorial perspective, please contact [email protected].