WMU News

Students, faculty and staff remember Sept. 11

Sept. 20, 2002

KALAMAZOO -- Services were held throughout the afternoon and evening of Sept. 11 at Western Michigan University to mark the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks against New York City and Washington, D.C., and to remember the heroes, victims and families of the victims.

Service of Reflection -- About 100 students, faculty and staff shared their reflections through an open microphone "Service of Reflection" in Kanley Memorial Chapel from noon to 1 p.m. Members of the Campus Ministry were available for those who sought individual counsel.

Memorial Dedication -- President Floyd was joined by faculty and staff for the dedication of an employee-sponsored Sept. 11 memorial near Goldsworth Valley Pond. About 700 people, mostly students, faculty and staff attended the 3 p.m. dedication. Many left remembrances at the memorial. See details below.

Service of Remembrance -- President Floyd and WMU graduate Jill Whitaker from New York City were joined by students and faculty members at a "Service of Remembrance" in Miller Auditorium. An audience of 2,000 attended the 7 p.m. service. See details below.

Ribbon of Light -- A candlelight vigil, "Ribbon of Light," concluded the day's services with a procession of more than 3,000 candle bearers stretching for one mile across the campus. The procession began at the Fountain Plaza outside Miller Auditorium at 8:30 p.m. and conclude in Goldsworth Valley near the memorial dedicated earlier in the day. Dr. Diane Swartz, vice president for student affairs, offered remarks to close the day's activities.

A memorial by the people, for the people

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 fire fighting 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.

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Students gather to remember the heroes and victims of Sept. 11

On the evening of the first anniversary of terrorist attacks against the United States, Sept. 11, 2001, Western Student Association President John Knowles led a student-organized Service of Remembrance in Miller Auditorium attended by more than 2,000 people, primarily WMU students.

A video of photos from campus in the days and weeks following Sept. 11, 2001, was produced by senior Brad Lowrey and served as a prelude to the service. The program also included a video review of the year 2001 at WMU, which included glimpses of events such as CommUniverCity, Bronco Bash and the visit to campus by President George W. Bush, as well as images from campus in the week following the Sept. 11 attacks.

Todd Neal, director of the WMU music theatre program, opened the service with a cappella solos of "Amazing Grace" and "America the Beautiful."

Remarks were offered by WMU President Elson Floyd and by senior Courtney Cooley and junior Nina Mayra. Senior Jeff Suffolk talked about his "Remembrance Ride," a 16-day bicycle ride from Kalamazoo to Manhattan to Washington, D.C., to Shanksville, Pa., and back to Kalamazoo. Suffolk made the 1,725-mile journey in August to the three sites of the Sept. 11 tragedy as a fund-raiser for a student-sponsored memorial on campus.

Jill Whitaker, a 1966 WMU graduate from Manhattan and past president of the Alumni Association's Greater New York Chapter, witnessed firsthand the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center towers and offered her reflections on the 12 months since.

"We have seen the darkest side of humanity," said Whitaker, "and we have seen the loving, caring parts as well."

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.

The service closed with an ensemble of 40 music theatre majors, singing "And the Day After That," accompanied on piano by Sean Michael Flowers. The song is from the musical "The Kiss of the Spider Woman," which will be staged Oct. 10-19 in Shaw Theatre, with Flowers as the guest music director.

Planning for the Service of Remembrance and other Sept. 11 services was coordinated by Beth Schwartz from Kanley Chapel and Student Activities and Leadership Programs. Among those on the planning committee were Erin Czelada from the Office of Alumni Relations and students Courtney Cooley, Mitzi Grier, John Knowles, Matt Luchansky, Laura Napiewocki and Jeff Suffolk.

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

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