Students gathered together in the Maxcy Quad at the University of New Haven on Sept 11 to commemorate the thirteenth anniversary of one of America’s most tragic days.
Guests bowed their heads in remembrance even prior to the start of the ceremony, reflecting on the memories that this day holds.
The cereomny was presented by UNH’s Undergraduate Student Government Association and Richard Rotella, USGA president, led the event.
Students and faculty had much to say about why this event is important, and why we must never forget the events of that day and the great sacrifices of our service personnel.
Justin Farrar, president of the Military Veterans of UNH club, began the speeches, saying that students, as the builders of tomorrow, must overcome the complexities of fear in the midst of danger to honor those that have paid the ultimate sacrafice.
“After the attach on Sept 11, 2001 these terrorist were likely to have claimed victory for their actions and purpose to insight fear into our hearts. On that day stood men and women (who) by their courageous acts are remembered. They were able to surpass the emotional complexities of fear to serve those who could not help themselves,” said Farrar. “Our men and women in uniform are heroes. They stand erect seeded in courage, burn with passion and light the fires of hope to all.”
Jenna Henning, president of the American Criminal Justice Association club on campus, followed with, “We honor those that have passed away and those that continue to protect us today.”
13 years ago terrorists tried to strip the nation of its pride, hope and peace and instill fear, “but these people failed in doing so,” said Henning. “Immediately after the attacks, our country responded strong. Our citizens helped each other in the best way that they knew how, with pride, hope and peace.”
Brad Miller, EMS club president, spoke specifically about the men and women in the Fire and EMS services and their rescue efforts during and after the attacks.
“The primary EMS provider for NYC is the FDNY Emergency Medical Services Division, along more than 30 hospital systems providing care to residents. On 9/11, 24 EMS supervisors, 29 advanced life support and 58 basic life support crews, totaling roughly 200 EMT’s and paramedics, were involced with the initial EMS resue efforts, followed by nearly 400 more by the days end,” said Miller.
“Two FDNY paramedics and eight emergency medical technicians gave their lives to save those in trouble, along with 343 FDNY firefighters and 63 police officers.”
Matthew Carroll, president of the Fire Science Club, in his speech recognized the 343 firefighters lost as brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, daughters, sons, neighbors.
Student Eliane Neilson said that Sept 11 “deeply impacted us as individuals and as a society; we want to give respect to those that gave their lives for strangers.”
Students stood silently observing the officers who had gathered to honor their fallen brothers and sisters.
“I am a volunteer firefighter and this is something that hits home for us,” said Jake Bakara, a brother of Sigma Chi Fraternity. “My favorite part is the laying of the flags at the memorial site.”
Former FBI agent Professor Mike Clark said that, “it is important [to remember] because this was the darkest day for the FBI and this country. Thirteen years later we must make sure we continue to protect our citizens from terrorism. So many responders lost their lives but we must always remember that they were the ones walking up the stairs when everyone else was going down, that shows how heroic those men and women are.”
UNH will never forget those who have sacrificed and continue to sacrifice on our behalf and a sincere thank you to all members of the student body who volunteer or work to protect the citizens of this country.
“I was honored to have the privilege to speak and plan this event in memorial for all those that were affected by this tragic day thirteen years ago,” said Rotella.
In his speech, Rotella reminisced on being so young and not fully understanding what everything meant. “All of us can remember that day like it was yesterday. I was in the third grade and it was a normal day at school, and then more and more of my friends started leaving. I was picked up by my father who told me my uncle, aunt, and several other relatives and friends were missing. As a child I didn’t know what he meant by that or even what to do. I was scared, I was baffled,” Rotella expressed to the campus community in attendance. “Everything seemed to come to a standstill. Tragedy entered our lives, one of the darkest hours in American history unfolded. The U.S. was under attack, once a truly unimaginable thing had now become reality. The most powerful country crippled in one fowl swoop, once two towers that shaped the New York skyline for almost 30 years crumbled in an instant, the Pentagon was under attack, and airplane wreckage was scattered over a Pennsylvanian field.”
At the ceremony there was a large turnout from the upper leadership of the West Haven and other local fire departments.
Martin O’Connor, associate professor at UNH and former Chief of the New Haven Fire Department, along with Wanye Sandford, former Deputy Commissioner of Emergency Management and Homeland Security for the State of Connecticut and a former Fire Chief for the East Haven Fire Department, also spoke at the ceremony. Sandford’s speech brought tears to the audience.
“Seeing the amount of people that were in attendance, truly showed how united we are as a campus and how we will never forget the events of 9/11,” said Rotella.