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Northeastern community commemorates 9/11 anniversary

Some 200 members of the Northeastern University community convened on Krentzman Quad on Thursday afternoon to observe the 13th anniversary of 9/11 and honor those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks.

Alexander Lev­ering Kern, the exec­u­tive director of Northeastern’s Center for Spir­i­tu­ality, Dia­logue, and Ser­vice, presided over the half-hour ceremony. The service featured poignant reflections; a reading of the names of the 25 community members who perished on Sept. 11, 2001; and a heartfelt rendition of a poem written in honor of the 9/11 victims.

“It is right and fitting that we mark this day, each in our own way,” Kern told the students, faculty, and staff in attendance. “We cannot forget the lives lost, or the precious light that shone brightly in each one, a light that cannot—that will not—ever die away.”

In his remarks, North­eastern Pres­i­dent Joseph E. Aoun char­ac­ter­ized the Sept. 11 ter­rorist attacks as a crime against humanity and urged attendees to remember those who lost their lives on 9/11. “A community that remembers is a community that will not be broken,” he said. “We are strong,” he added. “We are together.”

Following a moment of silent reflection, Kern recalled the names of the students and alumni as well as family members and loved ones of those in the Northeastern community who perished on Sept. 11. In honor of each victim, one of Northeastern’s spiritual leaders placed a stone at the base of the university’s 9/11 memorial tree, which was planted in honor of the fallen and is located on the brick terrace between Ell Hall and the Mugar Life Sciences Building.

The tree rests beside a stone plaque honoring the memory of Candace Lee Williams, a passenger on American Airlines Flight 11 and the only Northeastern student who died in the attacks. The plaque is engraved with the poetic words of Northeastern English professor Stuart Peterfreund, whose tribute to Williams recalls the mark she left on her family, friends, and peers: “And so this stone, this space,” the poem reads in part. “To mark the fact that you were of this place / Brightly, briefly, but with surpassing grace.”

In the fall of 2000, Williams enrolled in a financial accounting course led by Sharon Bruns, an accounting professor. On Thursday, Bruns recalled Williams’ leadership, intelligence, and promise, noting her co-op success at Merrill Lynch and her joy in helping her peers master their course work.

“What I will remember most is her enthusiasm for life,” Bruns said. “She appreciated the small things and the large accomplishments,” she added. “She will be truly forever young to us.”

One of the service’s most poignant moments came in the middle of the ceremony. Following Bruns’ reflection, Moleca Mich, PhD’15, read “The Names,” a poem written in honor of the 9/11 victims by Billy Collins, the U.S. poet laureate from 2001 to 2003. “So many names,” the poem concludes. “There is barely room on the walls of the heart.”

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