WMU News

A memorial by the people, for the people

Sept. 11, 2002

KALAMAZOO -- Flowers, flags and personal notes and mementos adorned a new campus monument late today, following a dedication ceremony near Goldsworth Valley Pond that allowed campus employees to honor the lives lost in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The University's employee-sponsored Sept. 11 memorial was unveiled by President Elson Floyd, who also offered his reflections on the tragic events of last year. Other comments were offered by Robert Jones, mayor of Kalamazoo; Dr. Delores Walcott, WMU assistant professor and clinical psychologist; and Dr. Alan Walker, WMU vice provost for Extended University Programs.

Floyd called the memorial an appropriate tribute and noted it was intended to "become a quiet place to come to reflect and think."

He noted that the University closed last year after the Sept. 11 attack, and that was appropriate, because that was a time to reflect. Now, he said, it's time to project and move forward, drawing on "the power and strength of this University."

Jones lauded the employee-sponsored effort, noting that those who died were employees just going about their jobs, who "suddenly became people on the front line sacrificing their lives for their country."

"We want the diversity of people and the freedom of expression that those who committed these acts found so appalling in us," he said, noting there were no incidents in Kalamazoo of reprisal or discrimination as a result of the attacks.

Walker and Wolcott brought the perspectives of those close to the tragedy to the Goldsworth Valley audience of some 700 people, mostly WMU students, faculty and staff.

Walker, who has an emergency planning background and long experience with those in the rescue and firefighting professions, remarked on the magnitude of the loss last year, when the number of deaths at the World Trade Center of firefighters alone was three times the number normally lost annually in the entire country. Wolcott, who made repeated trips to New York City as a Red Cross volunteer providing counseling and mental health services to those affected, shared the grief and shock of those she served.

"I was often asked if I went to Ground Zero," she said of her post-trip conversations. "I always replied, 'Ground Zero came to me,'"

The dedication ceremony opened and closed with a color guard from the University's Army ROTC battalion accompanied on bagpipes by WMU employee Gloria Culp, Registrar's Office. Rev. Ms. Coleen Smith Slosberg, United Campus Ministry, delivered the invocation. WMU staff member Jennifer Messana, Career & Student Employment Services, sang the national anthem.

New faculty member Allison Downey sang "On the Day (September 11, 2001)," which she wrote and recorded immediately following the tragedy as a fund-raiser for the families of victims. Downey is an assistant professor and director of theatre education.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, Toby Boyle, former president of the Administrative Professional Association and one of the effort's organizers, invited those attending to leave personal tokens, such as flowers, poetry, prayers, drawings or other mementos.

"Visit this site often, if you can," Boyle said. "Use it as we intended--as a place of quiet reflection and prayer."

The memorial was paid for with $2,700 in contributions from WMU employee organizations and their members and through services and materials donated by area vendors and WMU's Landscape Services. Contributing employee organizations include the Administrative Professional Association, Police Officers Association and Professional Support Staff Organization and the WMU chapters of the American Association of University Professors and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO.

The Employee Memorial Committee began planning and fund raising for a Sept. 11 memorial in October 2001. Members of the committee are Boyle of the Office of Information Technology; George Eskro, Career and Student Employment Services; Paul Hildenbrand, College of Education; Dori LaChance, Registrar's Office; Jennifer Messana, Career and Student Employment Services; and Stephen Podewell, Lee Honors College.

Media contact: Thom Myers, 269 387-8400, thomas.myers@wmich.edu

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