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Remembering 9/11

Marsh Chapel, other BU groups observe 10th anniversary


We remember.

Ten Septembers ago, an unnaturally clear day is forever clouded in memory, both locally and around the country. Boston University lost 34 alumni when planes hijacked by al-Qaeda terrorists slammed the twin towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and crashed in a small field outside of Shanksville, Pa. BU observes the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks Sunday with a noon service on Marsh Plaza, one of several commemorations put together by BU groups.

BU President Robert A. Brown and Robert Pinsky, a College of Arts & Sciences professor of English and former three-time U.S. poet laureate, will speak at the event. The names of the BU victims, whose biographies the University highlights on a special website, will be read as a bell tolls, and the Marsh Chapel Choir will sing. (The Catholic Center will still be on its summer schedule, so there will be no 12:30 p.m. Mass conflicting with the event.)

“This is meant to be open for religious and nonreligious people of all expressions,” says Marsh Chapel Dean Robert Allan Hill, who will lead the one-hour service with the seven University chaplains. “It’s meant as a discreet, reverent, broad moment of observance to recognize the events and losses of 10 years ago.” Hill spoke by phone recently with survivors of some of the alumni victims to invite them to the ceremony, and says they were “very grateful for the contact. They’re not easy calls to make. I expressed ongoing condolences on behalf of the University community. There was a lot of quiet, a lot of silence, a lot of gratitude.”

Remembrance boards, on which faculty, students, and staff may write reflections and memories, will be erected on the plaza and in the chapel basement. Similar boards were created in the immediate aftermath of the attacks.

Remembering the attacks has been an annual national ritual for a decade; Marsh Chapel spearheaded a ceremony similar to this one on the fifth anniversary—but 2011’s remembrance will carry special meaning for students, coming months after the killing of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden by Navy SEALs. “Those who are entering as freshmen were all of eight years old” in 2001, says Hill, and for many of them, bin Laden was a figure of evil incarnate; young people at BU and elsewhere publicly celebrated his death last spring.

Others at the University plan commemorative anniversary events as well. A sampling:

Coffee and Conversation

Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore will devote his weekly Coffee and Conversation with students today, Friday, September 9, to a discussion of 9/11. The chat runs from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Howard Thurman Center, in the GSU, 775 Comm Ave.

Previewing the discussion on his blog earlier this week, Elmore (SED’87) shared his own questions and sentiments on this anniversary: “Was this the ultimate challenge to American existence? What has become of the issues that just like to nudge: terrorism; immigration; international security; freeness to speak; the role of religion in our lives; whether participation matters; and straight-up war?…We allowed justifications to rule: for torture; to drop the presumption of innocence; for intolerance; and to permit government peeking and intrusions on its own.”

Voices of 9/11

College of Fine Arts School of Theatre students will read poems, essays, and letters from survivors and friends of 9/11 victims, which have been collected on a national website. The reading, Voices of 9/11, runs from 2 to 3 p.m. on Sunday, September 11, on Marsh Plaza (rain location is the Tsai Performance Center).

School of Theology Requiem Concert

School of Theology students in the Master of Sacred Music program will lead a requiem concert, with music from the Renaissance composer Orlande de Lassus, on Sunday, September 11, at 4 p.m. in Marsh Chapel.


WBUR, the University’s National Public Radio Station, during August solicited listeners’ memories of the day of the attacks—where they were, how they were affected, whether it changed their lives. More than 40 people contributed, and 10 were recorded and have been airing this week, WBUR news director Martha Little says. Other listeners’ videos, photos, letters, and tapes will be posted on a special web page.

“One of the most poignant memories was of a Canton, Mass., man, Mike Molway, who drove into Manhattan on the evening of September 11 with a portable generator to help in the rescue effort,” Little says. At one point, he noticed the street strewn with shoes and asked a policeman about them. The cop explained that when the twin towers fell, “these people were running for their lives, and they ran right out of their shoes.”

Rich Barlow

Rich Barlow can be reached at barlowr@bu.edu.

3 Comments on Remembering 9/11

  • Lori Dougherty on 09.10.2011 at 11:48 am

    BU created a wonderful website almost immediately after the attacks, entitled We Remember. People on campus and around the world shared their thoughts and feelings as the days wore on, and it was a very healing place to be. Very thoughtfully done, and very supportive to the BU community and to people not otherwise connected to us who knew those BU had lost — and we lost many. I don’t know if that site is archived somewhere, but it would be great to see it again.

  • Lori Dougherty on 09.10.2011 at 11:56 am


  • Kathryn on 09.11.2011 at 2:04 am

    We will never forget Lisa Frost. She was everything a young woman, a valuable, contributing person in the world, should be. Talented, loving, driven, hard-working, truly friendly, quick to help, quick to hug, passionate yet logical. She was a beautiful person, inside and out. We will grieve forever for her but will be strong and live our own lives with more gratitude.

    I miss her.

    And I’m still sorry I made her wear a horrendous ice blue bridesmaid dress years ago…now THAT was a good friend. :) Thank you, BU, for being her dream school, for being her drive our last year of high school. She loved being there and she loved so many people at BU. You’re part of the story now.

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