Community gathers to honor 9/11
Grace McDermott | Wednesday, September 12, 2018
Many Notre Dame students were between the ages of 1 and 5 when the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, occurred. For some, it was one of their first concrete memories. Others were too young to remember the event.
To commemorate this day, students and community members gathered at the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes on Tuesday night at 8:46 p.m., exactly 12 hours after the time of day the first plane hit the World Trade Center in New York City.
University President Emeritus Fr. Edward Malloy, who led the University during the time of the 9/11 attacks, presided over the memorial service. He recalled doing the same 17 years ago to the day in front of the Golden Dome.
“As [Sept. 11, 2001,] went on, there was a great sense of fear about what was coming next,” Malloy said. “Like Notre Dame always does in a moment of crisis, we organized a Mass on the Main Quad. Around 10,000 people were present.”
Malloy also spoke of his struggle to find any words to say during his homily on that day.
“We needed comfort and consolation,” he said. “We needed to believe that God was with us. I thought of the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the one in front of the Main Building. ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest, for my yoke is easy and my burden light.’”
Though there were not 10,000 people at the Grotto on Tuesday night, the gathered crowd filled the surrounding area, illuminating the twilight with candles that were left in prayer when the service ended.
Sophomore Aaron Benavides, student government’s director of faith and service, said the tradition is of high importance for the Notre Dame community.
“We make sure that we continue this tradition because it’s so important for us to remember the tragic events of that day, such a defining part of American history,” Benavides said. “This was my first time going, and I was honestly floored with how many people came. It really speaks about the great sense of community and family we have here at Notre Dame.”
The service ended with a quiet sign of peace filled with emotional embraces.
“Having this event year after year, as it begins to fade from our memory a little bit — I think this event really has the power to remind us of what happened on that day and to come together as a community,” Benavides said.