Community comes together to remember 9/11 attacks
Ciara Hopkinson | Thursday, September 12, 2019
Though most Notre Dame students are too young to have concrete memories of Sept. 11, 2001, that day remains etched in America’s collective memory as the day that tested and changed, but did not break, the country.
On Wednesday evening, the Notre Dame community gathered at the Grotto at 8:46 p.m. — the time marking exactly 12 hours after the first plane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001. Students held lit candles as Army ROTC members presented the flag and the Echoes acapella group sang The Star Spangled Banner.
Fr. Edward “Monk” Malloy, the University’s president at the time of the attack, recalled both the fear and the immediate urge to come together as a community 18 years ago, when a Mass was held on South Quad with 10,000 people in attendance.
“You could see that people were glad to be in each other’s company; there was a sense of consolation and mutual support,” Malloy said. “When we got to the time of the Lord’s Prayer, everybody yoked arms like we do in the Alma Mater.”
Malloy told how, at a loss for what to say, he sought inspiration from the campus fixtures students walk past each day.
“I was walking around the lakes and I thought about this image right in front of the Main Building, the Sacred Heart of Jesus with the ‘venite ad me omnes’ on it in Latin suggesting the biblical text, ‘Come to me all you who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest, for my yoke is easy and my burden light,’” he said.
Malloy spoke about his experiences in Washington, D.C., and in New York City in the weeks following the attacks and the sense of uncertainty that gripped the nation. Ultimately, however, he called on the community to remember the outpouring of love within the country.
“Now all these years later, we remember the dead,” he said. “We remember those who lost their lives seeking to save people in New York and in the Pentagon and we pray for the peace and mutual reconciliation that might lead these events not to happen again. So we pray, with fondness and care and mutual devotion and we hope, with God’s good time, that the Prince of Peace might indeed give us lasting peace.”
Malloy pointed to New York’s 9/11 Memorial and Museum as tangible evidence of the country’s strength in the face of uncertainty and loss.
“They are very powerful ways, especially for your generation who is too young to remember all this, what it was like and how the country came together, and how people from all over the world supported us,” he said.
Students recited the Mourner’s Kaddish, a Jewish prayer for the dead, as well as a verse from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita, that speaks to the invincibility of the soul. Students then placed their lighted candles in the Grotto in silence, reflecting the actions of students 18 years ago.
“Afterwards, somebody said, ‘Well I’m going to the Grotto to light a candle if anybody wants to come along.’ I thought maybe 20 or 30 people would come,” Malloy said. “It took an hour and 45 minutes for everybody to come through. It was a very powerful moment.”