Students, faculty commemorate lives lost on 9/11
University Chaplain Chaz Howard and Penn President Amy Gutmann addressed the crowd at the Hall of Flags
September 11, 2011, 11:19 pm·
Alex Neier | DP
Many students who attended Sunday night’s vigil were sitting in their grade school classrooms when they received news of an event that would reverberate across the world. A decade later, they came together to commemorate the lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001.
Students who lost loved ones in the attack were joined by those who witnessed the horror from afar to mark the 10th anniversary of that Tuesday morning.
University Chaplain Chaz Howard began the memorial in the Hall of Flags with a prayer. Penn President Amy Gutmann then addressed students and urged them to put hatred in the background and love in the foreground of their lives.
“Let’s not forget the treasured gift of friends and family in a community like Penn, where empathy and inclusion are not just practiced but deeply prized,” she said, adding that it was “moving to see so many members of the Penn community” in attendance.
After performances from the Quaker Notes and Penn Glee Club, Howard went on to describe the memorial as “the best of Penn” with the gifts of song and leadership.
He shared a personal experience from the 10th anniversary of 9/11, when he was asked to explain the significance of this day to his young daughters, aged 5 and 7 years old. Howard recalled how his daughter began to cry as he recounted the day’s events and could not understand why anyone would commit such an act.
“No matter what age you are, you can’t comprehend why something like this would happen,” College senior Brittany Atuahene said, echoing Howard’s sentiments.
College senior Eva Jirjahlke, an exchange student from Germany, was 12 years old at the time. Even though she was 4,000 miles away, she remembers the day very clearly and was moved by the memorial.
“We felt with all those people who lost someone,” she said. Jirjahlke explained that her school had a partner school in New Hampshire and the next day, her classmates signed and sent a pledge to express their solidarity.
Xiaotong Chen, a first-year student in the Graduate School of Education who lived in Beijing at the time of the attack, called 9/11 a disaster for the United States and the entire global community.
The memorial was jointly organized by students groups including the College Republicans, the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly, the Muslim Students Association, Penn Democrats, Penn Political Review, PRISM, the South Asia Society, the United Minorities Council and the Undergraduate Assembly.
Third-year Law student and GAPSA chairman Joseph Friedman said that Sept. 11 was “a moment in time that transfixed the whole nation but also the whole world.”
“Ten years ago, many of us were sitting in high-school or grade-school classrooms, opening up our books to learn about long division, comma usage and verb tenses in foreign languages,” said Wharton senior and UA Vice President Faye Cheng, as she presented a statement from the event’s organizers.
“In nearly an instant, the world become smaller and more interconnected, and a single morning’s event of carnage reverberated in every corner of the Earth.”