The Temple University community marked the one-year anniversary of Sept. 11 with events focused on remembrance and improving relations within the university’s diverse setting.
The events began at 8:40 a.m. with a reading of every victim’s name on a stage in front of the Bell Tower.
Several hundred students and faculty were gathered, some wore, I Love NY shirts, others American flags and some simply patriotic colors.
Six uniformed Temple police officers were present to maintain event security.
The role call of names was stopped four times so local bagpipe player, Charlie Rutan, 37, could play “Amazing Grace” in remembrance of each plane impact.
Rutan, who’s played the bagpipes since he was seven, said the demand for bagpipe players on Sept. 11 was unprecedented.
“This is busier than any St. Patrick’s Day I’ve ever seen,” he said.
Col. Rodney Griffin of Temple ROTC read names of victims with last names beginning with letter G. “I lost friends at the Pentagon last year,” he said.
“As I read names a plane flew overhead and made me think of our nation’s resolve and of those we lost as a group of angels flying towards the heavens.”
Throughout the readings three large canvas boards were available for those present to leave a message of remembrance.
Over 2,000 flag pins were given to students who promised to take a victim’s name with them and keep that person in their thoughts for the rest of the day.
Temple Dean of Students, Jim Fitzsimmons coordinated the events.
“I think we have a strong commitment to remember that lives were lost,” he said.
“While we did not lose anybody directly either alumni, student or faculty, we still wanted to have a respectful way to remember those lost through a ceremony free of any speeches and political rhetoric.”
Temple police officer Charles James joined in the reading of the 2,801 names.
James, a veteran officer of 16 years, has mixed feelings about the day’s effect on the future.
“In the long run I don’t think a lot is going to change,” he said.
“Law enforcement and the military will feel the change, but the rest of the public will still go to work everyday.
Shortly after the reading’s conclusion at 11:30 a.m. the music department played a memorial music selection and Dean Fitzsimmons read the Gettysburg Address to honor those lost.
The dance department then performed on the Skaters lawn opposite the Bell Tower.
Readings from the Inter Faith Council ended the morning’s festivities.
Shaz Kaiseruddin was among the few students from the Muslim Student Association giving out flowers to members of the crowd. Kaiseruddin, a graduate student majoring in religion, recently moved to Philadelphia from Chicago and says she loves the sense of community at the university.
“Today is a bitter sweet day,” she said.
“We gave out over 400 flowers with messages of goodwill to promote love amongst the community. It’s important to remember that we’re all in this together.”
Over the last year, Nada Al-Timimi, a staff counselor at Tuttleman Counseling Services, has dealt with a lot of the Arab and international students affected by the events of Sept. 11.
“After the attack there were a lot of safety concerns for international students,” she said.
“These students didn’t feel safe here, but I think a lot of that anger has been translated into compassion.
People found better and more productive ways to deal with their anger and in turn the backlash decreased.”
Martyn Miller, Director of Temple’s International Services office, says Sept. 11 had negative effects on international students.
“Sept. 11 has made things slower and more difficult for our international students,” he said.
“We’ve had a lot of returning students that were delayed by security checks on their student visa or denied outright of renewal without an explanation.
This is unfortunate because we’re unable to help these students with their problems.”
The anniversary events concluded later that night in the Founder’s Garden where two oversized spotlights were lit at 7:00 p.m. and shined into the night sky to remember those killed at the World Trade Center.
Camillia Keach, associate professor of linguistics, says Sept. 11 changed many things about the world we live in, including how people communicate.
“The term ‘9/11’ has become a part of our lexicon and it is unclear it’s dictionary entry will be,” she said.
“Pearl Harbor assumed both a geographical meaning, as well as a surprise attack.
‘9/11’ can end up being defined as a terrorist attack or a symbol of heroism and patriotism.”
Keach says this is the seminal event this today’s college students will describe to their children.
“Last year’s events made it very clear to them that they would soon be in a position to determine the course of our country,” she said.
“I think Sept. 11 caught their attention and now they don’t have such a blind idea about their future.
Their futures now have another dimension and I think that’s what Sept. 11 means to Temple’s students.”
Chris Powell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org