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On 20th anniversary of 9/11, Princeton community gathers to honor alumni lost

<h5>The Remembrance Bell at the entrance of the 9/11 Memorial Garden.</h5>
<h6>Candace Do / The Daily Princetonian</h6>
The Remembrance Bell at the entrance of the 9/11 Memorial Garden.
Candace Do / The Daily Princetonian

“Robert L. Cruikshank ’58. Charles A. McCrann ’68. Philip Guza GS ’72. William E. Caswell GS ’75. Martin P. Wohlforth ’76. Robert J. Deraney ’80. Joshua A. Rosenthal GS ’81. Karen Klitzman ’84. Jeffrey D. Wiener ’90. John Schroeder ’92. Christopher Ingrassia ’95. Robert G. McIlvaine ’97. Christopher Mello ’98. Catherine MacRae ’00.”

While reading each name and class year of the alumni killed in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, President of the Alumni Association Mary Newburn ’97 paused as University Trustee Kim Goodwin ’81 rang the bronze “Remembrance Bell” standing at the entrance to the 9/11 Memorial Garden.

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Around 50 community members gathered early Saturday morning at the entrance of the small garden wedged between East Pyne and Cannon Green Halls to honor the 14 Princetonians whose lives were lost 20 years ago on Sept. 11, 2001 in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

The reading of the names followed remarks from President Christopher Eisgruber ’83, who reflected on his own memory of the tragic day, as his wife had journeyed that morning into downtown Manhattan, recalling how students and faculty on campus struggled to access news and flocked around the few televisions they could find.

“My wife could not get home and had to stay in Manhattan,” he said. “Even now, even 20 years later, it is heartbreaking that nearly 3,000 others, including 14 treasured alumni of our university, never made it home at all.”

Students gather to watch President Bush's address in Sept., 2001.
The Daily Princetonian

Eisgruber also shared words that then-newly-appointed President Shirley Tilghman spoke a few days after the tragedy as the campus community came together to grieve on Cannon Green.

“We all have a responsibility to prove what we know to be true: that love is stronger than hate, that justice is stronger than injustice, that democracy is stronger than despotism, and that freedom does allow for the fullest flowering of the human spirit,” said Eisgruber, quoting his predecessor.

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Earlier in the ceremony, Associate Dean of Religious Life Matthew C. Weiner led a moment of silence and four University chaplains offered words of remembrance and prayer.

“As we gather on this day to hold in our hearts all those who are hurting from loss and pain,” said Imam Khalil Abdullah, “we ask, oh Allah, oh God, for healing. As we remember, as we reflect together, help us to stand on the firm ground of our humanity.”

Rabbi Julie Roth shared her experiences from 9/11 when, on the day of the attacks, she had traveled to downtown New York City to meet with one of her mentors.

“It wasn’t until many hours later that I reached my parents,” Roth said, remembering how she wandered the streets of the city, trying to call her parents from a phone booth but couldn’t because all the lines were jammed.

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“I remember asking my father, who is a Holocaust survivor, if he was frightened now to be in America,” she said. “He said to me, his heart was just filled with sadness, that even at Auschwitz-Birkenau, so many innocent lives had not been taken so instantaneously.”

Hindu Chaplain Vineet Chander also spoke to the community members and offered a benediction.

“May our consciousness become spontaneously absorbed in the rapture of pure love unto the one transcendent Supreme.”

Rev. Dr. Theresa S. Thames asked attendees to join her in prayer and urged them to remember their shared humanity.

“Dear God, we declared 20 years ago that we will never forget as we watched the world change before our very eyes,” Thames said. “Yet 20 years later, with tears in our eyes, we seem to have forgotten our united front. We have forgotten that strangers of every background and hue offered prayers, support and lifted prayers to their God. We have forgotten that we all lost, though our losses may have been different.”

Outside Fitzrandolph Gate, town residents came together to permanently honor the victims of the 9/11 attacks.

The Princeton 9/11 Memorial Committee held a remembrance ceremony at noon on Saturday in front of the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad Headquarters at 2 Mt. Lucas Road, dedicated to those who perished on the day and to “the strength and courage of the families and friends who continue to mourn their loss 20 years later,” according to the event announcement.

The ceremony featured the dedication of a permanent memorial, which includes a nine-foot steel beam from the wreckage of the World Trade Center and plaques describing the events of the day.

Marie-Rose Sheinerman is a senior writer who has reported on COVID-19 policy, faculty controversy, sexual harassment allegations, major donors, campus protests, and more. She can be reached at ms78@princeton.edu or on Twitter at @rosesheinerman. She previously served as an editor of news and features and now assists with content strategy.

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