With moments of silence and the tolling of chimes, the Cornell community solemnly observed the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people and irreparably altered the fabric of life in the U.S. and around the world.
Around 100 people gathered under a pale blue sky for the event, which began with a minute of silence at the Cornell Sesquicentennial Grove at the top of Libe Slope at 8:46 a.m. – the moment American Airlines Flight 11 struck the World Trade Center’s North Tower. The event ended with a second moment of silence at 9:03 a.m., when United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower.
A distant trumpeter – not part of the official program – opened and closed the ceremony with a mournful Taps.
“Protecting and preserving our freedom and our humanity when most threatened is our greatest challenge,” Provost Michael I. Kotlikoff said at the memorial. “Resisting those who threaten our fundamental values, but also resisting those who cast aside those values in a spirit of revenge, is our greatest test. Today we pause to remember those we lost and that tragic day, and we also remember the strength of our community and our efforts to bind the spiritual wounds of our friends and our colleagues.”
Joel Malina, vice president for university relations, welcomed the attendees – students, faculty, staff, administrators and members of the Ithaca community, including a child holding a stuffed bald eagle toy to his chest. Representatives of Cornell ROTC, the Cornell University Police Department and the Cornell University Emergency Medical Service lay a wreath in memory of those killed, and Preston Hanley, MPA ’22, read the names of the 21 Cornell alumni who died during the attacks.
Kotlikoff also mentioned Renee Alexander ’74, currently a faculty mentor for the Posse Program in the College of Arts and Sciences, who lost her husband on Sept. 11, 2001; as well as Eamon McEneaney ’77, a member of Cornell’s Sports Hall of Fame, who helped save 65 colleagues by leading them down a smoke-filled stairway after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and who died during the 9/11 attacks.
Following the commemoration, the Cornell chimes tolled at 9:37 a.m., when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon; and at 10:03 a.m., when passengers aboard United Airlines Flight 93 launched a counterattack, causing the hijackers to crash the plane into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
“We are grateful that you could take time from your Saturday morning to join together in observance of this solemn day and the many lives that were lost,” Malina said, “and to give our heartfelt and enduring thanks to those who responded to the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001.”
In 2016, Cornell unveiled a permanent memorial to the alumni who died in the attacks, in the Anabel Taylor rotunda near Cornell’s World War II memorial. A memorial observance that drew 12,000 people, on Sept. 14, 2001, is believed to be the largest gathering ever held on Cornell’s Arts Quad.
Cornell alumni lost on Sept. 11, 2001
Joshua T. Aron ’94, College of Human Ecology
Janice M. Ashley ’98, College of Arts and Sciences
Albert Balewa Blackman Jr. ’96, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Joni V. Cesta ’85, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Swede J. Chevalier ’98, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Christopher Ciafardini, MBA ’99, Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management
Edward P. Felt, M.S. ’83, College of Engineering
Arlene J. Fried ’74, College of Human Ecology
Fredric N. Gabler ’93, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Kristin White Gould ’57, College of Arts and Sciences
Donald G. Havlish Jr. ’70, College of Engineering
Juan M. Lafuente, Ph.D. ’77, College of Engineering
Stuart Soo-Jin Lee ’93, College of Engineering
Sean P. Lynch ’87, School of Industrial and Labor Relations
Eamon J. McEneaney ’77, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Virginia A. Ormiston, M.Eng. ’82, College of Engineering
Kaleen E. Pezzuti ’95, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Elvin Romero ’88, College of Human Ecology
Michael A. Tanner ’79, College of Human Ecology
Jennifer L. Tzemis ’96, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
M. Blake Wallens ’92, College of Arts and Sciences