Community unites to recall victims of 9/11 terror
Students who were fourth-graders just knew something was terribly wrong
Hundreds of students walked across campus to Chapels Pond under a brilliantly bright and clear sky to remember the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, and pay homage to the victims and the heroes of those tragic events.
The true diversity of the Brandeis community was highlighted; the gathering included students of every race and color, international students and those who grew up not half an hour away, those who had been affected by the 9/11 tragedy and those who were simply there to pay their respects.
Student Union President Herbie Rosen ’12 said in his opening remarks that “In this tragedy there is a chance to be a community,” and asked that all community members treat one another as family.
Dillon C. Harvey ’14 described his personal memory of 9/11 as a native New Yorker. He spoke of the strange feeling of being in the fourth grade and knowing something was terribly wrong but not “having the tools to understand what has happened.” This sentiment echoed in the memories that many other students said they had of the day.
Usman Yasin Hameed ’12, a Pakistani student, recited a moving poem he wrote in memory of his brother, Mohammed Salman Hamdani, an EMT who was killed in the attacks. The poem, which he wrote five years ago, was the culmination of all he felt because of the events of 9/11, in particular the pain and anger he experienced because at first many people devalued the heroic efforts of his brother because he was a Muslim. Salman Hamdani was memorialized as a hero by Mayor Bloomberg on April 5, 2002.
Imam Talal Eid, Brandeis’ Muslim chaplain, expressed his sadness that “the voice of hatred still exists in the world.” He called on the Muslim community to join hands with global society to defeat terrorism. “It is true that as Muslims we are affected by the negative outcome of 9/11,” he said, “but it is also true that there are many leaders raising their voice in support of Muslims, and expressing their solidarity.” He asked the students, as the future leaders and voices of the global community, to “plant a seed of hope and peace amongst ourselves.”
President Fred Lawrence spoke poignantly about the significance of the events of 9/11 to the present generation, comparing its importance to the significance of the Pearl Harbor attack to his parents’ generation and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy to his own generation.
The parallel among these events, Lawrence said, was simple; all represented a “loss of national innocence, a security you didn’t even know you had till it was gone.”
Lawrence acknowledged that “we often have little control over the evil we have to face,” but he stressed that we do have “infinite control over how we deal with it.”
Father Walter Cuenin, Catholic chaplain and coordinator of the university’s Interfaith Chaplaincy, described the memorial building at the site of the Twin Towers in Manhattan as “a symbol of hope and new life in the midst of a tragedy, a way of remembering the past and honoring the dead.” He urged all present to “stop to consider the beauty of the world, and to give thanks often.”
Concluding the event, Protestant chaplain Alex Kern led the assembly in a stirring rendition of “Peace, Salam, Shalom.”