This morning, South Quad — usually dotted with picnickers and Frisbee players — took on a more serious note as a diverse group of students, alumni, and even young children gathered to remember the Sept. 11 attacks. Despite the heaviness of the subject matter, however, the mood of the memorial was not one of mourning alone; a message of hope and community permeated the event from beginning to end.
The memorial opened with an ROTC Color Guard procession that marched in, flags raised, as members of the Notre Dame band played The Star-Spangled Banner. Reverend Edward Malloy, C.S.C., gave a brief talk about the university’s response to the attacks in which nearly 3,000 people, including several Notre Dame alumni, lost their lives. Malloy emphasized the role that community played in helping Notre Dame heal after the tragedy. He spoke of the Mass that occurred right after the attacks and told a touching anecdote about Notre Dame’s first post-9/11 football game, against Michigan State. Despite our historic rivalry, the marching bands of both teams united on the sidelines to play Amazing Grace together. Malloy concluded his talk with a prayer for the victims of 9/11, for our society’s first responders and for the leaders of the world.
According to Kimmy Sullivan, the Student Government’s Director of Constituent Services, a similar memorial service, complete with a Color Guard, was held last year. Sullivan said that this year, however, she had wanted to “do something hopefully a little bit bigger” for the attacks’ fifteenth anniversary, so she was glad that Rev. Malloy had been available to share the story of his experiences.
The memorial concluded with a silent walk to the Grotto punctuated only by birdsong. Once arrived, the attendees lit candles, prayed, mourned and reflected. After a few minutes, members of Student Government locked arms and began to sing the Alma Mater. The rest of the group joined in shortly, creating a moment characterized at once by loss and by unity. Sullivan said that Director of Campus Ministry MaKenna Siebenaler had orchestrated the unexpected, seemingly impromptu singing of the Alma Mater with the help of other Student Government members. “That was definitely my favorite part of the event,” she said of the song, which encapsulated the community spirit so heavily referenced in Rev. Malloy’s talk.
After the song’s conclusion, the attendees lingered for a few more minutes and then dispersed to the sound of church bells, leaving the Grotto aglow with dozens of tiny flames.