On Sept. 9, more than 150 students, faculty and staff participated in a memorial service on the Gelsi-Young Hall lawn to pay tribute to the more than 3,000 people who lost their lives on Sept. 1, 2001. They heard Eastern President Elsa Núñez say that those who died were heroes. "For all who died on 9/11, let us hold them up today and forever, in our prayers, in our thoughts, and in our determination to remain staunch to our own values -- respecting life and respecting the diversity of culture, opinion and beliefs that make our country strong."
Núñez said our greatest strength as human beings is the capacity to love. "Our greatest weapon against the forces of hatred is decency. Let us each be a force of good and let us express it individually. When we observe 9/11 today, we not only honor the innocent victims who died that day, we also honor everyone who has ever put their lives on the line to protect our freedoms, including our service men and women."
The University installed the "9/11 Tribute Tree," surrounded by a ring of 152 paving stones, as a permanent memorial to the 152 people of Connecticut who died on 9/11. A granite bench next to the tree allows people to stop by to sit and reflect on their own values.
To honor those who lost their lives and to support the causes of world peace and global understanding, students and staff from 16 different campus offices spent the summer making 1,000 paper peace doves that were displayed in the Student Center throughout the weeks of Aug. 29 and Sept. 5. Students, faculty and staff wrote their names on the doves and then displayed them prominently in the center.
On Sept. 11 at 9 p.m., more than 250 students and community members joined together in a solemn candlelight commemoration of the ten-year anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy. Holding candles in a large circle in front of the Foster Clock Tower, students heard retired Eastern Police Detective Louise Wright share her experiences as a first responder in New York City. Father Larry LaPointe of Campus Ministry and Kyle Droniak from the Campus Activity Board encouraged students to find ways to make a difference in their communities. Brittany Cava from the Center for Community Engagement encouraged participants to add their handprint to a large banner that contained the handprints of Windham schoolchildren as a commitment to supporting youth. Area resident Chris Savitski provided music, and members of the Willimantic Fire Department and Eastern Police Department also attended the ceremony.