In remembrance of the lives lost during the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks as well as those who responded in service, Roger Williams University hosted a series of related events to commemorate its tenth anniversary.
The weeklong series of events began on Tuesday, Sept. 6, with 2011 Common Reading Author Billy Collins reading selections from his prolific poetry collection. Collins’ book, “Sailing Alone Around the Room,” was selected as the 2011 Common Reading for first year students because of its thematic relevance to Sept. 11. Among the selected poems was “The Names,” a memorial poem that honors those lost in the Sept. 11 attacks. Collins has only publicly read “The Names” a handful of times; it was written per request of the United States Congress, to commemorate the first anniversary of the attacks, during Collins’ tenure as U.S. Poet Laureate (2001 to 2003).
“The motive for writing a poem is just so you remember something,” Collins said during his lecture. “So much of an experience flows down the river of forgetfulness.”
Following the reading, members of the RWU community dedicated silver stars for a Wall of Remembrance in the Commons. Each star carried a message remembering someone who was lost on Sept. 11, honoring the first responders or a special thought or prayer.
A solemn commemoration at the University pond offered campus community members an opportunity for meditation and reflection. Community members placed flowers on the pond to remember those lost and to honor the sacrifices made in the days following the attacks.
On Monday, Sept. 12, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-R.I.) visited campus to participate in two Sept. 11 memorial events. Along with members of the Rhode Island Coast Guard and the Roger Williams University ROTC Saber Battalion, Sen. Reed dedicated a wreath to be placed by the U.S. flag on D’Angelo Common in front of the Administration Building.
“9/11 is a day which we must remember, but remembrance alone is not sufficient,” Reed said. “We must commit ourselves to the great task of creating a more just and decent world in which hope will overcome the hatred that was so manifest on that day.”
The ceremony specifically cited men and women of the armed forces who died at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, as well as the first responders in New York City who lost their lives in service of their country.
“Our challenge in the days ahead is to give meaning to those lives [lost], and we can do that by creating a world where hope and opportunity overcome fear,” Reed said.
Following the wreath laying ceremony, Sen. Reed participated in a panel discussion on “Rights, Remedies and Terrorism: 9/11 Challenges to the Legal System,” at the Roger Williams University School of Law. Panel experts included: U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island Peter Neronha; former lawyer for Guantanamo detainees Patricia Sullivan; national security law expert and RWU Law Professor Peter Marguiles; and Donald Migliori, attorney at Motley Rice LLC who represents 9/11 victims.