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Campuses remember 9/11 attacks

Kaitlynn Riely | Thursday, September 11, 2008

Seven years ago today, Lewis Hall rectress Linda Cirillo was doing an internship as a chaplain at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington D.C., when terrorists flew an airplane into the Pentagon in nearby Arlington, Va.

Cirillo, who had retired as a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force after 20 years of service, became “intimately involved” in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a day when planes also struck the World Trade Center Towers in New York City and a plane crashed to the ground in Shanksville, Pa.

“I was actually there on the frontline in the hospital with one of the burn victims that escaped and got out of the Pentagon alive, but not without being burned from head to toe,” she said.

Cirillo, who is now a certified Catholic chaplain, ministered to the burn victim, a lieutenant colonel in the Army. The man survived his injuries.

Cirillo will share her memories of Sept. 11 today during a prayer service on Fieldhouse Mall to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the worst terrorist attack in American history.

Cavanaugh, Zahm, Keenan, Stanford, Breen-Phillips, Farley and Lewis are sponsoring the prayer service, which will start at 9:45 p.m. and last between 30 and 45 minutes, junior Angela Rossi said.

Rossi, one of the organizers of the service, said the event should symbolize “hope for the future.”

“I think it would be something people should be interested in coming to, because when it happened, a lot of us were younger, and we might not necessarily have been able to process everything that was going on,” Rossi said. “But now, seven years later, we have seen how it has affected us and how it has affected people physically, psychologically and emotionally, but that doesn’t mean we can just give up and forget about it. I think it’s important to keep it close in our hearts.”

Though the event is sponsored by mostly North Quad dorms, Rossi said the entire campus is invited. Seven years ago, on the day of the attacks, a mass for the entire Notre Dame community was held on South Quad.

Rossi said North Quad campus ministry commissioners wanted to start a new tradition to commemorate Sept. 11.

“It seems like there are smaller things every year, but maybe not necessarily something planned by the students to remember it, so we really wanted to get that started,” Rossi said.

In addition to the prayer service, a special Mass for peace will be celebrated in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at 5:15 p.m. today, Father Peter Rocca, the rector of the Basilica, said.

On Saint Mary’s campus, Campus Ministry will hold a prayer service in the Stapleton Lounge at 4:30 p.m.

Notre Dame Army ROTC has a run planned for Thursday morning and after the run, Father Rocca will lead the ROTC cadet in prayer to commemorate the anniversary.

Sept. 11 is also the second day the Army ROTC is hosting a blood drive, along with the American Red Cross, in the Grand Ballroom of LaFortune Student Center, Captain Joseph Kosek of the Notre Dame Army ROTC program said.

“In a way, you can kind of say it something we are doing for Sept. 11 …” he said. “It will all go to the Red Cross blood bank. So obviously the intent is to help out anybody who needs blood, so doing something good for the local community here.”

In years past, the Notre Dame Tri-Military Command has held a ceremony on Sept. 11, designated as Patriot’s Day, but this year they will not hold a similar event.

“Patriot’s Day is not necessarily a military event and probably shouldn’t be perceived as such,” said Capt. Dale Nees, the commanding officer of the Notre Dame Navy ROTC unit and a professor of Naval Science. “About 98 percent of the people that lost their lives that day had nothing to do with the military. We didn’t want it to take on the context of it being a militaristic celebration or memorial – it was more than just that.”