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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Stony Brook Remembers September 11th

Closing in on noon, the crowd gradually gathered in the SAC auditorium for the annual Sept. 11, memorial. Despite the rain that day, no one was dreary. People greeted each other with handshakes, hugs, and smiles. Echoes of chatter engulfed the room, as they entered in groups of two, three, and four.

The ceremony was supposed to take place outdoors at the Memorial Arch, just outside the Humanities building, and then proceed to the SAC loop’s memorial tree garden, but the rain resulted in a change of plans, moving the ceremony indoors.

Then, Rabbi Joseph S. Topek, director and Jewish chaplain from the Hillel Foundation for Jewish Life, stepped to the podium, stage-left. Immediately, the crowd fell silent for the university’s eighth anniversary of the Sept. 11 Commemoration Ceremony, sponsored by the Alumni Association and Interfaith Center.

The silence broke a short moment after Rabbi Topek formally requested it. An audience member fumbled for his ringing cell phone and quickly shut it off. Nobody noticed. All eyes were fixated on Rabbi Topek who pleaded that everyone should continue to support one another,even after the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

Once Shira Klein sang the national anthem, silence dominated the environment again as Rabbi Topek then called forth the University Police Color Guard to post the colors. After two guards on each side marched in unison from the back of the auditorium to the front, one guard to the audience’s right failed to face to the right upon command. Eyes glanced over as the guard nervously changed position.

The anxiety then carried over to the lighting of the memorial candle. Six students who represented six major religions on campus jerked and clicked their butane lighters multiple times until the candle was lit.

Nervousness among the crowd dissipated soon after. Amid the hush, prayers were offered from chaplains of the six campus religions, which comprise the Interfaith Center. They include the Asian Christian Campus Ministry, the Catholic Campus Ministry, the Hindu community, the Muslim Student Association, Hillel Foundation for Jewish Life, and the Protestant Campus Ministry. Peace was a motif throughout.

Sister Margaret Ann Landry of the Catholic Campus Ministry offered a prayer on behalf of the grieving families of the lost. ”hellip;may God bless us and keep us,’ she said. ‘May God’s countenance shine upon us, and give us peace.’

Reverend Mark Shia of the Asian Christian Campus Ministry offered a prayer for world leaders. ‘We pray that you will use the leaders of this world to heal wounds,and to bring together brothers and sisters,’ he said. ‘We pray that you will use the leaders of this world to spread peace and blessings to all the nations of the world.’

Although the audience felt calm, President Stanley displayed some tension at one point as he fumbled over some words. He soon composed himself, and spoke with more oomph.
‘Let our community at Stony Brook University be an instrument of change for the better,’ President Stanley said at the end of his remarks. ‘In doing so, we truly honor the lives of our lost family.’

Student ambassadors then proceeded to place a bouquet of white flowers on the stage edge for each of the 21 alumni lost. At the same time, a memorial bell was tolled each time the names of lost alumni, family of university staff members, and local firefighters were read aloud. Anxiety emerged again as a speaker mispronounced the name of a dead local firefighter.

After the tolling, everyone present was allowed to relax. Signaling the ceremony’s close, faculty and staff members presented a memorial wreath dedicated to the lives of those lost. The crowd observed a moment of silence. Emily Logan sang God Bless America. Finally, the Color Guard retired the colors-this time, in perfect unison.

Despite the air of tension and sadness that filled the auditorium, Mary Andrucki said she would never dream of not attending. Her daughter, Jean Andrucki, was one of the 21 alumni who perished in the attack. She described Jean as both her daughter, and best friend.

‘Jean would have talked to a lamppost,’ Mary Andrucki said smiling. ‘She had a heart the size of this room.’

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