Students, nation remember horrors that struck Sept. 11

The Minnesota Daily

AEditor’s note: The Minnesota Daily chronicled the Sept. 11 memorials and events throughout the University and the Twin Cities.

at 5:01 p.m. two University Police motorcycles slowly ambled their way up the east side of Northrop Mall.

They led the nine midshipmen who serve as volunteer members of the ROTC honor guard. Soon, they presented the colors in front of Northrop Auditorium, and the memorial service began.

Sitting just feet away as the motorcade brushed past, Swetal Sindhvad filled out a comment card.

A former employee at McGraw Hill in midtown Manhattan, the new University employee felt drawn to the service, saying, “I just needed to commemorate somehow.”

Last Sept. 11, Sindhvad, 29, caught the last train from New Jersey into New York City and watched the carnage unfold from her office window.

She looked on as the speakers began, reflecting on lessons of the past 365 days.

“When it first happened, I think there was immediate understanding that this type of thing happens in other parts of the world. Since then, I’m not sure,” she said. “In terms of understanding America’s position in the rest of the world, that’s a little harder to grasp.”

Interim President Robert Bruininks spoke and emphasized the need to “rededicate ourselves to the values that made this country and this University strong.”

After his speech, as the marching band played in the background, Bruininks admitted struggling with exactly which words would strike the best chord.

“I’ve had two or three very difficult things to do over the past three weeks,” he said, referencing the shooting death of Gophers football player Brandon Hall. “This is an important time to come together and remember the dead and acknowledge that despite these horrible acts, these senseless acts, we remain a free people.”

“I hope I never have to do it again,” he added.

More than 1,000 mourners, onlookers, volunteers and participants gathered on the plaza by the time the Interfaith Campus Coalition took the steps to lead a series of prayers from Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths.

7:30 a.m., St. Paul

this is a very sad day, but it’s a good day to be an American,” Gov. Jesse Ventura said to a crowd of approximately 500 gathered on the State Capitol mall. “It’s a good day to be free.”

As F-16 fighter jets from the Minnesota Air National Guard flew overhead and church bells tolled at 7:46 a.m. – one year to the minute from when the first plane struck the World Trade Center’s north tower – Ventura read a proclamation declaring Wednesday “Minnesota Remembers Day.”

“Twenty-first century America is strong because, like the pioneer that traded furs up the Mississippi River and like the pioneer that broke the wheat fields of northwest Minnesota, we are resilient people,” Ventura said.

“We have much to be thankful for in this country,” he added, “but without freedom, we have nothing.”

7:30 a.m., Minneapolis

minneapolis police, fire, emergency and government officials walked single-file through more than 500 attendees at the Hennepin County and Minneapolis memorial ceremony.

The event, held at the north plaza of the Hennepin Government Center, opened with Mike Opat, chairman of the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners, instructing the silent crowd “to remember and reflect” together.

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak reflected on the past year and how the attacks and their repercussions have affected the public, saying that the American people not only looked inside themselves for comfort, but also looked outward.

“We looked to the people who were often overlooked,” he said. “And in so many ways, we learned that loneliness brings us together much better.”

After a moment of silence, the Minneapolis City Hall bell rang as flags were lowered to half-mast.

11:30 a.m., Loring Park

pain, peace and pamphlets were the order of the day at Loring Park, where 43 peace groups organized to remember the events of Sept. 11 and lobby for an end to the fighting in Afghanistan.

While the bells of the Basilica of St. Mary tolled in the background, approximately 300 people gathered in the sun-drenched park to hear musicians and speakers lobby against current fighting and possible U.S. military action in Iraq.

“Instead of continuing the cycle of violence, we could have begun to listen to the critics of our military and foreign policies,” Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers(MAP) spokeswoman Mary White said as she welcomed the crowd.

The ceremonies, organized by MAP, closed with the dedication of a “peace pole” to designate the park as an international peace site and a concert by the Friends School of Minnesota middle school choir.

11:30 a.m., Heller Hall

sounds of Japanese and Brazilian music echoed the international theme inside the Heller Hall lounge Wednesday where students and staff gathered to create origami paper cranes.

“A Time for Reflection” was sponsored by the Office of International Programs to bring people together who had different reactions to Sept. 11 because of their involvement in international work or study.

“I wanted to see how other people felt,” said Alec Johnson, a fourth-year University student attending the event who was studying abroad in Germany during the attacks. “I feel like I have a unique view of it.”

Jennifer Schulz, a worker at the Office of International Programs, helped organize the event and said the goal was to keep it low-key.

“We wanted something that internationally-focused people would be comfortable with,” Schulz said. “We all faced this in different ways.”

12:20 p.m., Blegen Hall

professor Abdi Samatar observed a minute of silence before starting his Wednesday class.

Samatar, who teaches a global studies course on Islam, encouraged his students to honor the those killed on Sept. 11, but also to think critically about the reasons for terrorism.

“There are extremists in all religions, and we should be careful about labeling,” he said. “That’s exactly what the terrorists want us to do.”

Students in his class expressed a wide range of views, from supporting military intervention in Iraq to changing foreign policy.

Samatar said these discussions challenge students to think about all sides of a debate.

“Being critical of both ends becomes terribly important,” he said to the class. “Whatever you decide to support, it has to come from hard thinking.”

7 p.m., Harriet Island

as the sun set behind two mounted police and a flag flying at half-mast, the Native American Lakota Singers performed at the Harriet Island Bandstand. St. Paul Mayor Randy Kelly followed with a rendition of “Amazing Grace.”

City Council member Dan Bostrom announced the renaming of the Wabasha Street Bridge as the Wabasha Freedom Bridge before a laser light show projected patriotic images including flags, eagles and the Statue of Liberty onto a 60-foot nylon dome. The show was accompanied by Neil Diamond’s “America” and other patriotic songs.

Josh Linehan, Andrew Pritchard, Pat Armitage, Elizabeth Dunbar, Michael Krieger and Troy Pieper contributed to this report.