On Sept. 11, 2001, nearly 3,000 lives were lost due to organized terrorist attacks on the United States.
Sixteen years later, the Manhattan College community honors the brave men and women who died tragically that day.
Patrick Maurer, vice president of club administration, student government and the Veterans Club placed flags on the Quad early Monday morning, representing the victims and service people who died in the attacks. The school had a moment of silence on the quad for when each World Trade Center tower was hit.
“It is important to still remember 9/11 sixteen years later for a numerous amount of reasons. A big one to me is how sudden and tragic human life was taken on that day from that evil act. As we look back on that day every year it’s important to take note about how we came together as Americans in wake of an evil terrorist act,” said Maurer.
Traditions, services and museums that memorialize that day are important – especially to people whose lives were directly affected including junior psychology major, Eva Pugliese.
“I think it’s great that we acknowledge 9/11 and I love what we do on the quad and the visual representation of the flags does it well because even though it is something people read in a textbook, it is something that really affected us especially being from New York City and that day is something that really brought everyone together and unified the city. People were helping strangers on the street and the flags makes you realize the depth of who died, who served, and who was there that day,” said Pugliese.
Many students faculty and staff from MC remember where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news about the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon. Brother Robert Berger began a tradition of his own that still holds to this day.
“On September 11, 2001 many members of the Manhattan College community gathered on the roof of Jasper Hall to look across the city and watch with tears as the smoke rose over the two World Trade Center buildings. Since that time every September 11 has turned the roof of Jasper Hall into a sacred space. Sixteen years later, present-day students with little or no actual memory of the event gather on the roof to remember those who have died and those who risked their lives to save others. Every year is the same: prayers, awe and, for some, tears,” said Brother Rob.
Brother Rob has touched the hearts of students at Manhattan College for many years. Students like Pugliese acknowledge his kindness and the importance remembering that day.
“The two footprints and fountains are beautiful, and I think what they do every year with the lights are just a beautiful way to represent what it was, and that we will never forget it, and that it is always there. And it’s a great representation that there were these two huge buildings that represented the skyline of New York, and they will always still be part of the skyline, and they will always still be there for people – and I guess that’s what the memorial still represents,” said Pugliese.
“I think it’s great that Brother Rob lets people go up on the roof and see the lights. I think it’s a big thing because I know when I saw those lights for the first time from my house in Staten island it was really impactful and emotional because that’s where they used to be and it’s those lights shining into the sky that they were there and they were destroyed but they are still there in our minds and in our hearts.”
Eva Pugliese is one of the many people whose lives are still affected by 9/11 on a daily basis. Pugliese’s father was a fire fighter and first responder at the World Trade Center helping put out the fire and saving many lives. He remained for weeks to assist in the cleanup of debris. Four years ago Pugliese’s father was diagnosed with Merkle Cell cancer, and last year he received a second diagnosis of bladder cancer. He is in remission now but he still suffers from PTSD from the events that occurred in 2001.
“It’s a big part of my life. He went there and he didn’t come home for a few days. My mom didn’t know if he was alive and when he came back he was just covered in dust and soot. I was young but I remember to this day it’s just something that we will never forget. When people make jokes about it, it’s not funny because so many of his friends died. Literally everybody he sat and ate breakfast with that morning died and so many people that he knew or that were close to him died or were injured and it affects him a lot. He has injuries from it that affected his whole life and mine too. People say that it’s this big day but to actually know someone who was there and experienced it and really saw the terror of it affects you in a bigger way then just knowing of it or reading about it in a text book,” Pugliese said.
Like Pugliese, senior communication major Olivia Siller was directly affected by 9/11. Siller lost her father on that day. He was an off-duty fireman who had just finished a 24-hour shift, and when he heard the news on his radio immediately turned around back into Manhattan. He was one of the 343 FDNY men that were killed that day.
“I think people do not realize how prevalent 9/11 is in America on a daily basis. I am forced to see pictures and videos of the day my father was killed so often. My five siblings and I have to live without an amazing father. I think if people could be more sensitive on the matter and stop posting videos of people jumping out of the towers, the planes crashing, and other traumatic images it would be so helpful in the mourning process of everybody affected. Most people don’t realize how traumatic that day is for first responders and people who had to evacuate the towers, not only the families of people who were killed. We have never had a chance to grieve because it is so in our face every day,” Siller said.
Although these images affect many families in different ways, some Americans rely on them to show the importance of understanding the events that occurred on that day and never forgetting. 9/11 will not only be remembered for its tragedy but also for the bravery and courageous acts of service committed by the heroes who saved lives.
“I think it’s so important to never forget how important 9/11 is because the memories of the men and women who lost their lives should never be forgotten. I think it is also symbolic of how fleeting life is, and how we need to be kind to each other and do as much good in this world as we can,” said Siller.