Rows upon rows of broken hearts stood side by side Friday (Sept. 14)their spirits solemn, but not brokenas they came together in Woodburn Circle to pay tribute to the thousands of victims of last Tuesdays horrific terrorist attacks on America.
p. WVU students, faculty, staff and members of the Morgantown communityover 7,000 strong, many carrying American flags and dressed in red, white and bluecame to remember, to pray and to contemplate. On this national day of prayer and remembrance, it was truly an amazing display of patriotism not only to honor the fallen, but to salute the many heroes that emerged from the tragedy.
“I feel grateful to live in America,”one employee commented after the service. Another added,”America will overcome this evil.”
In his memorial remarks, Student Government Association President Chris Ferro called for unity and understanding.
“Let us focus our intentions on being civil in the face of cowardly terrorism,”Ferro said.”Our message must be positive and compassionate so we might be an example to others that aggression and ignorance will be overshadowed. And, let us be vigilant and not pass judgment on those around us or around the world who shoulder no responsibility for these acts.”
Also addressing the crowd that gathered in Woodburn Circle and spilled over onto Oglebay Plaza and in front of the Mountainlair, WVU President David Hardesty said that while the nation remains stunned and perplexed, democracy will prevail.
“Men and women who valued freedom above all else founded America,”Hardesty noted.”And, even at a time of great tragedy during his own time, President Abraham Lincoln said that our nation should be dedicated to the `great task remaining before it,and that our nation must resolve that those who died to preserve our democracy shall not have died in vain.”(The text of President Hardestys speech can be found athttp://www.nis.wvu.edu/wvu/memorial_remarks.htm)
Following the brief service, a moment of silence was observed. As the Woodburn Hall tower clock struck twelve times at noon, Gretchen Russell, representing Alpha Phi Omega national service fraternity, rang the bell of the armored cruiser USS West Virginia 21 times. The bell from the World War I ship sits proudly in Oglebay Plaza along with the mast from the battleship, USS West Virginia, which served in World War II. Russell was accompanied by an Air Force ROTC color guard.
Professor of Music and Resident Faculty Leader Gus Paglialunga sang”America, the Beautiful,”concluding the moving ceremony.
WVU canceled classes during the Friday service, said Provost Gerald Lang,”so that the University community could collectively express their feelings.”
In other related news, two bomb threatsone last Tuesday (Sept. 11) at One Waterfront Place and another last Thursday (Sept. 13) at the Health Sciences Centeremptied those facilities for a brief time. The Foundation-owned office building remained closed for a 24-hour period, while the HSC resumed normal operations later that morning.
On Tuesday morning (Sept. 18), Clark Hall and the Chemistry Research Laboratory Building were evacuated for about an hour and a half while fire and safety officials investigated a suspicious-looking package. The item was found to be legitimate, and classes resumed.
As the nation prepares for certain retaliation in what President Bush has called”the first war of the 21st century,”the University community continues to reach out. A second blood drive was held Monday (Sept. 17) at the WVU Shell Building, following a successful blood collection effort last Tuesday.
Counseling through the Faculty-Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) and Carruth Center is also still being offered to help individuals sort through their emotions of shock, fear, sadness, anger and empathy. To reach out for help, call FSAP at 293-5590 or the Carruth Center at 293-4431.
The FSAP also has a number of tips for faculty and others who are dealing with class discussions of the Sept. 11 events, along with a list of symptoms to look for in people suffering from critical incident stress and a checklist for supporting children during this difficult time.