From the Archives: Remembering 9/11
This past weekend marked the 20th anniversary of the tragic events of 9/11, a day that has made an indelible mark on U.S. history. Though many college students today are too young to remember that day, both local and national efforts allow us to continue to honor the lives that were lost 20 years ago. Despite our age on that day, many of us still carry the deep sorrow that 9/11 brings each year, as we mourn the loss of loved ones and friends of loved ones.
But in that sorrow, there is beauty. For a day each year, our deeply divided country unites to remember. In fact, it is our responsibility to remember — to carry on the legacy of those who died in the twin towers, at the Pentagon and in those planes. Those whose lives were taken too early.
In this edition of From the Archives, we confront our painful past, capturing those initial emotions of fear and shock on Sept. 11, 2001 here at Notre Dame. But we also find in these past 20 years the healing powers of community and collective memory.
The day after: Notre Dame reacts to 9/11 attacks
Sept. 12, 2001 | Jason McFarley | Erin LaRuffa | Maribel Morey | Ally Jay | Eric Long | Dan Lindley | Tai Romero | Researched by Spencer Kelly
Twenty years later, the events of Sept. 11, 2001 remain indelibly etched into our memories. While we now have a clearer picture of what occurred on that day, it is important to remember the fear and uncertainty that prevailed at the time. This incertitude is prevalent in The Observer’s coverage on Sept. 12.
As news editor Jason McFarley (‘03) reported, Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s shut down their campuses at around 10 a.m., just over an hour after the first plane hit the World Trade Center.
In lieu of classes, an estimated 6,000 students, faculty and staff gathered at South Quad for Mass led by University President Emeritus Fr. Edward Malloy.
“From 8:45 I’ve been watching TV like many of you, listening to eloquent spokespeople and statesmen trying to make sense of what happened,” Malloy said. “All I can do is to draw on the well of faith we share.”
While everyone was emotionally affected, many students in attendance had been directly impacted by the events of the previous day.
New York City native Michael Federico (‘04) frantically called friends and family back home, grateful to find that all were alive and well. Senior Kathy Harter (‘02), however, was unable to reach her friends in the area.
“Two of my friends had internships for this fall at the World Trade Center, and are MIA,” Harter said. “No one has heard from them.”
Junior Lauren Berrigan (‘03), who had an internship in Washington D.C., described surrealistic plumes of smoke emanating from the Pentagon.
“I felt like I was in a movie — Independence Day or such,” Berrigan said.
Finally, there was uncertainty over the future. As assistant professor of government Dan Lindley wrote in a Letter to the Editor, a “war on terrorism” seemed inevitable. But senior Viewpoint Columnist Eric Long (‘02) questioned this course.
“Is personal suffering remedied by inflicting suffering on someone else?” Long wrote. “How often do we, as Americans, lament the endless cycle of redemptive violence that plagues war torn areas around the world? Maybe praying for peace should be on every day’s agenda.”
Sophomore Tai Romero (‘04) agreed, offering a message that we should take to heart on this twentieth anniversary.
“From this whole ordeal, let us learn to live respect, breathe respect and breed respect,” he wrote. “Let us learn to fight violence with love.”
One year later, Washington D.C. students recall and reflect
Sept. 11, 2002 | Jason McFarley | Researched by Christina Cefalu
The harrowing events of 9/11 continued to weigh heavily on the minds of Notre Dame students in the year following the attack. Three students who were interning in Washington D.C. in the fall semester of 2001 shared their reactions and reflections a year after the tragedy with news writer Jason McFarley (‘03).
Lauren Berrigan (‘03) had quit her internship at the Pentagon a week before the 9/11 attack. Upon receiving news that the Pentagon had been hit, she felt a sense of guilt and regret.
“Where I had worked was really close to the damaged area of the building,” she said. “It’s a little strange to say, but in a lot of ways I felt guilty for not being there and experiencing what the other workers did that day.”
Even a year after the towers fell, Berrigan still experienced a “continual fear that every time I turn on the TV there’s going to be something there.”
Gail Thompson (‘03), who had interned at Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s office in D.C., recalled the intense fear she experienced when she walked into work at the Russell Senate Office Building.
“Everyone was watching TV when I got to work,” she said. “They said the Pentagon had been hit, and outside you could see the smoke behind the building. We all ran to get out of there. It was the fastest I had ever run in my life.”
Though the 19 D.C. interns were given the opportunity to return to Notre Dame after the attacks, none of them chose to leave. Rachael Protzman (‘03) said her family was apprehensive of her decision to say.
“I never wanted to leave,” Protzman said. “It was difficult talking to loved ones because they didn’t comprehend why I didn’t want to leave.”
The shock of such an unexpected tragedy remained with students who now carry an uncertainty about the future of American safety. However, despite the trauma that these students faced, many focused not on the destruction of the past but the promise of their future.
“One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is there are a lot of people who hate us [for] what we stand for. They can either eliminate us or we can keep going,” Thompson said. “I think most likely we’ll keep going.”
The desire to be a force for good in the world is a characteristic of Notre Dame that stands the test of time. Students expressed serious interest in understanding terrorism, its causes, and its prevention. In response, the University developed courses to shed light on the terror attack by faculty in the departments of management, peace studies, history and political science. These classes filled up as soon as they opened, speaking to the tenacity of Notre Dame students to use their talents to shape a virtuous and prosperous world.
In loving memory of friends and family
Sept. 11, 2002 | Sarah Nestor | Researched by Uyen Le
A year after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Notre Dame community continued to mourn members who had perished on that tragic day. The Observer’s Sarah Nestor detailed the lives of four of those members, honoring their impact on their communities on the anniversary of their deaths.
Amy Jarret worked as a flight attendant on United Airlines Flight 175, the plane that ultimately crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center. Though she did not attend Notre Dame, her love of the Irish was deep, as multiple of her family members graduated from the University. When her brother, Jay Jarret (‘91), attended Notre Dame, she would visit him for at least one football game every season. Her uncle Fr. Peter Jarret (‘86), who was the rector of Keough Hall at the time, described her as having “a good love for life and a great love for people.”
Because Jarret’s body was never found, the family experienced profound pain from this lack of closure. However, the Jarrets continued to celebrate her life, preserving their memory of her.
“The family has been finding other ways to remember her: dedicating a memorial in New Smithfield and through memorial masses for her,” Fr. Jarret said.
Suzanne Kondratenko (‘96) was a bright Saint Mary’s humanistic studies alumna who graduated at the top of her class. She loved her college experience so much that she convinced her sister, Caroline to apply as well. Both intelligent and kind, Suzanne was a clear role model for her sister.
“[Suzanne] was extremely brilliant, independent, but family was very important to her and she always found time for us,” Caroline said. “She had a great sense of humor and people always loved her. You had to know her to experience it.”
Suzanne worked as a senior operations improvement consultant for Keane Consulting Group in Chicago, but was attending a meeting in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001 in the south tower of the World Trade Center when the planes struck. Her body was never found. On the one-year anniversary of her death, the Kondratenko family attended the memorial services at ground zero in New York City.
Timothy Byrne loved working in the twin towers as a bond trader, so much that one of his brothers gave him a framed photo of the World Trade Center at Christmas one year. Timothy, brother of Colin Byrne (‘05), called his mother on 9/11 to tell the family that he saw the plane crash through the tower next to his, but felt safe because of an announcement that his building was secure. Tim was seen and loved as a father figure by his nine siblings, since their father, whose birthday was on Sept. 11, passed away fifteen years before.
Peter O’Neill, an ambitious 21-year-old college graduate and aspiring businessman, secured a job as a bond trader on the 104th floor of the World Trade Center. His cousin, Padraic McDermott (‘04), remembered O’Neill for his devotion to family, as Peter lived at home in Amityville, New York, choosing to commute to the city for work.
“His friends, as well as his family knew he was always looking out for them,” McDermott said. “He was devoted to serving others.”
After a few days of anxious waiting, Peter’s family realized he was not coming home. In the year following his death, his family and friends transformed a park in the center of Amityville into a memorial park.
“It was a big event in the town, many people from the village helped out, and it was a big event that really pulled the village together,” McDermott said.
Though many community members gathered for the one-year anniversary of his death, McDermott could not attend his cousin’s memorial service. Instead, he relied on the support of his Notre Dame community to lift him up during this difficult time.
“It was the Notre Dame campus, friends and the Mass that helped, so that I didn’t even feel homesick,” he said. “I don’t know what I would have done without that support.”
Though these are only a few of the stories from that fateful day, they serve to represent the power of memory, which will carry on the legacy of these fallen members of the Notre Dame community.
9/11, 10 years later: The vow to never forget
Sept. 12, 2001 | Sarah Mervosh | Megan Doyle | Researched by William Kim
Even in 2021, twenty years after the 9/11 attacks, we continue to hear the echoes of the United States’ vow to never forget the horrors of that day and the people killed in the attacks. This is a memory etched into our country’s heart. The strength of this vow can clearly been seen 10 years ago, in The Observer’s 2011 coverage of 9/11 memorial services.
As Sarah Mervosh (‘12) reported, it was clear that 9/11 was a day that people could quickly remember. This holds especially true for University President Emeritus Fr. Edward “Monk” Malloy.
“I was in my office and I think it was right after the first plane hit, [my assistant] said, ‘A plane has hit in New York City,’” Malloy recalled. “The first thing I thought of was ‘what a tragic loss.’”
This sentiment held true for students as well. Jim Horvath (‘03) easily described what he had been doing that September Tuesday morning, stating that he’ll “…never forget it, honestly.”
Megan Doyle reported on the Notre Dame community’s remembrance of 9/11 on the day’s tenth anniversary. A campus-wide candlelight mass was held outside of Hesburgh Library, with Fr. Malloy delivering the homily. Then followed a procession from the Hesburgh Library to the Grotto, people’s hands illuminated with the faint light of candles.
In a display of unity, rather than holding hands during the Lord’s Prayer, members of the congregation locked arms.
“It was a way that we could have intimate, personal contact with one another to say, ‘I’ll be there for you now and the days ahead,’” Fr. Malloy said.
During the prayer intentions, student body president Pat McCormick (‘11) read the names of the members of the Notre Dame community who had died in the 9/11 attacks. This list included four Notre Dame alumni and 25 relatives of Notre Dame graduates.
Though the mass was described to be a “somber” event, Sam Bevilacqua (‘15) offered another perspective.
“It was a peaceful time to reflect on the events of 10 years ago,” he said. “The whole experience, the students linking arms, was a very moving time.”
As the Notre Dame community, not only did we not forget, but we also actively remembered the details of 9/11. Even to this very day, students continue to keep that day engraved in their hearts.
Many tri-campus students today were not alive for the events of 9/11. As we continue to remember and reflect on what happened that day, it is imperative that we keep the day’s memory alive, even in this post-9/11 world. After all, we made a vow on that day to never forget. As it is written in the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York City, “No day shall erase you from the memory of time.”