Friday marked the 14th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on 9/11. That day of tragedy devastated the nation and changed countless lives in New York and beyond. 2,977 people died in the attacks, including family, friends, and faculty of the university back in 2001. Fordham joined in as the nation mourned; an interfaith ceremony, which took place on campus at 1 p.m., and honored the memory of all who were killed, especially the 39 members of the Fordham community who were lost.
A soft wave of footsteps followed two lead bagpipers as a group of over 70 students and faculty walked with candles lit to the Finlay Garden Memorial. Two Campus Security Vehicles guarded the procession along the walk down campus roads, with one in front and one following behind. The ceremony began outside the McGinley Center as the message to “Let your light shine as a beacon for others in times of darkness” was shared as candles were being distributed.
At the memorial site, the group gathered in front of a podium. Prayers and readings were offered from five religions, followed by a moment of silence and a choral rendition of “Amazing Grace.” Afterward, the names of the Fordham community members whose lives were lost in the attacks were read aloud and yellow roses were placed in front of the memorial stone, one for each individual that Fordham community lost that day. Other group members offered the names of those they knew who perished as well. The depth of the tragedy was present, as multiple names were spoken.
“The wound is too fresh to forget. It is important to recognize where we are in the world, as the political climate is still feeling the repercussions,” stated Sofia LaBella, FCRH ’18.
Remembrance. That was the main message of the prayers, knowing we have the memory of those dear to us. We take time to remember them, to honor them. Throughout our lives, they are with us in memory.
Father Lito, in his second month as Executive Director of Campus Ministry (following Fr. Florio, S.J.), was at Rose Hill at the time of the attacks. “Memory shapes who we are as people, including our religious identity,” he said.
“Memory expresses silently the strivings of the spirit. When we remember people we love, we make them present to us even in their absence. In remembering 9/11, we reach back to love. By reaching back to love — and God is love we allow God to participate in — our present. Divine mercy and forgiveness are an offer to us to bring into our future. Religion, in symbol, ritual and prayer, facilitates this event of healing to happen.”
The prayers also emphasized the importance of peace, both on earth and within ourselves; to have compassion for our brothers and sisters and to live in humility.
As a cool breeze gently brushed by in the quiet afternoon, students and faculty listened to and took in the prayers and readings. “Coming together in an interfaith way was great, to come reflect and remember as one community,” Siobhan Loughran, FCRH ’18 said.
The group stood solemnly with bowed heads, and as the emotions came, support and hugs came too.
Upon the conclusion of the event students slowly trickled away, returning to the normalcy and peace this Sept. 11, 2015 held. The tragic events from 14 years ago will continue to stay with us, for we remember them.
The ceremony was a joint effort of Joan Cavanagh (director of Interfaith Ministry), the Office of Campus Ministry, USG, Jewish Student Organizaiton, Fordham Christian Fellowship and the Dorothy Day Center for Social Justice.