Faculty, staff and students crowded into Brower Student Center last Thursday to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11.
The ceremony, run by the Student Government Association (SGA), included speeches by SGA Executive President Dan Scapardine, College President R. Barbara Gitenstein and Lt. Col. John Stark, head of the ROTC programs at the College, Princeton University and Rider University.
“It’s important for people to remember the nation has experienced a traumatic change in how the world is . and there are people serving who are trying to prevent it from happening again,” Stark said. “It’s really healthy for people to remember what is happening in the world.”
Gitenstein urged students to remember victims of the Sept. 11 attacks, as well as those who have died serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“We come together this day to remember all the victims of Sept. 11,” she said. “We cannot forget our sorrow and we should not.”
Gitenstein also urged the audience to learn to take responsibility for their actions, and to avoid making stereotypical presumptions about people who are “different from us.”
Gitenstein ended her speech by quoting the poet Maya Angelou’s answer to the question, “‘Death, where is thy sting? … It is here in my heart and mind and memories.'”
Scapardine gave a brief speech in which he compared the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon to Pearl Harbor and the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.
“(The attacks are) the prominent shared experience of our generation,” Scapardine said.
“I thank you for showing your support and overwhelming sense of community,” Nora Wentworth, vice president of community relations, said.
The ceremony concluded with the ROTC saluting and marching off the stage as “Taps” was played. Afterward, people were invited to sign a commemorative banner displayed in the student center for the rest of the week as a sign of remembrance.
The ceremony was important to the College community “because I really think it really was a traumatic event for this entire country, particularly this region,” Gitenstein said. “We didn’t know how much of our family was dead. As a country it made us realize that we are part of a global community.”
“We do some sort of memorial each year,” Wentworth said. “This is a bit on a larger scale than last year. There was just a kiosk set up with the names of people from New Jersey who had died last year. Some students from the College didn’t think it was enough, so we decided to have a ceremony and hopefully, it’ll become a tradition.”
“I thought it was pretty good. It was really touching,” Chelsey Brockenbrough, freshman journalism major, said as she finished signing the banner. “I was just wondering if they should’ve gotten a bigger banner.”