Campus remembers victims of Sept. 11 terrorist attacks with solemn ceremony

cameron nielsen reading names of 9-11 victims

Cameron Nielsen, assistant librarian at Penn State Scranton, reads names of some of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks during a ceremony held at the campus on Sept. 11, 2019.

Credit: Amy Gruzesky

SCRANTON, Pa. — On a sunny, nearly cloudless morning, much like the one 18 years ago, Penn State Scranton devoted a few hours of solemn reflection to those who lost their lives during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

On the morning of Sept. 11, 2019, members of the campus community gathered on the patio to commemorate the 18th anniversary of the day terrorist hijackers flew commercial jets into New York City’s World Trade Center's twin towers and Washington, D.C.’s Pentagon, and crashed another plane in a western Pennsylvania field.

From 9  to 11:30 a.m., nine readers — student Meryam Meawad and staff members Christine Ostroski, Josh McAuliffe, Michele Nicoteri, Mary Lance, Cameron Nielsen, Deborah Johnson, Alyssa Forlenza and Jennie Knies — took turns reciting the names of the nearly 3,000 people who died during the deadliest foreign attack on American soil, an event that would change world events in countless ways.

The readings were paused five times to mark significant moments from that morning — at 9:03 a.m., when United Airlines Flight 175 struck the World Trade Center’s south tower; at 9:37 a.m., when American Airlines Flight 77 struck the Pentagon; at 9:59 a.m., when the south tower collapsed; at 10:03 a.m., when United Airlines Flight 93 crashed; and 10:28 a.m., when the Trade Center’s north tower collapsed.

Several volunteer musicians, including faculty members Todd Adams, assistant professor of philosophy, and Milton Evans, nursing program coordinator and associate teaching professor of nursing, played renditions of "Taps" on the trumpet.

Miniature American flags were scattered throughout the patio, while a sign displayed the names of the 10 Penn State alumni who died on 9/11. Meanwhile, inside The View Café, students assembled, and then delivered, care packages for first- responders for the Dunmore and Throop police departments.

The patio observance was planned by campus coordinator of co-curricular programs Henry Matute Coello. He said the campus had hosted similar Sept. 11 observances in the past, although not for the last few years.

Matute Coello was living in his native Honduras at the time of the attacks, but it nonetheless made a profound impact on him, he said.

“It didn’t just affect the United States, but the entire world,” he said. “It’s very important for students to know what happened on 9/11, and how it has affected people in different ways. We’d like to make this an annual event.”

Freshman Kelly Morris, one of the event’s trumpeters, was just four months old on Sept. 11. However, her parents were living in New York City at the time. Not long after, they moved to Milford in Pike County.

“One of my parents’ friends died that day,” Morris said. “I was really honored to take part in this event. How could I say no?”

Junior psychology major Caitlyn Powell spent a good portion of the morning quietly watching the ceremony from a rock on the patio. Like Morris, she was just a baby then, but she has a firm understanding of the day’s significance.

“When you hear all those names, and realize that each one of them is a person who lost their life, it really hits you," said Powell.