ECU responds to tragedy
(Sept. 17, 2001)
ECU students, faculty and staff opened their hearts and arms to the victims of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington as the enormity of the tragedy settled in last week.
In acts large and small, events planned and spontaneous, the campus joined the rest of the nation in reaching out to the survivors of the attacks and to the families and friends of the dead.
Blood drives, a memorial service, a candlelight vigil and a fund drive were quickly organized. American flags of every size appeared.
It wasn’t hard to find people with deeply personal connections to the attacks. One student left for New York City after that his father was among the missing and presumed dead.
Another student shared with classmates the agony of his father who had retired from his job at the World Trade Center after the bombing in 1993, but who still had dozens of friends working there.
Sadie Cox, president of the Student Government Association, told a standing-room-only memorial service at Wright Auditorium on Sept. 12: "We have had to grow up a lot in the last 27 hours. It’s not a way any of us could have predicted or would have wanted."
"Yesterday taught us that history doesn’t just happen in books," she said. "My parents remember where they were when they first heard that President Kennedy had been killed. I suspect we won’t forget about when we first heard yesterday’s grim reports.
"I don’t have any great wisdom for you. I am just as hurt and confused and disbelieving as you are."
Chancellor William Muse told the same audience: "It is important that we come together as a community to share our grief and our sorrow and to reach out to one another."
He said, "This great nation was built by millions of people who worked and cared and sacrificed and loved life and family and god and country. I do not believe that any attack or threat can diminish our spirit or our freedom. It is vital that we heighten our vigilance and strengthen our resolve. But we must not surrender our freedom. We must not cower against cowardice."
Outside, on the porch and steps, more than 100 people who arrived too late to get into the jammed auditorium held hands in an impromptu prayer service. The Rev. Scott Wilkinson, the director of the ECU Wesley Foundation who helped lead the prayers, said, "The students want to do something. It’s important to them to offer what they can."
Afterward, hundreds of people lined up at Minges Coliseum for a Red Cross blood drive, adding to the contributions from the day before at a drive at Mendenhall Student Center.
Events and efforts followed quickly as the days unfolded. The SGA announced a fund-raising drive with a goal of collecting $1 for every ECU student. A candlelight vigil was held on the steps of Sonic Plaza on the evening of Sept. 13. Members of the university community participated in a moment of reflection at the Cupola at noon on Sept. 14.
ECU's football game at Syracuse, originally scheduled for Sept. 15, was postponed until Sept. 29, when both teams previously had an open date. Kickoff for the game at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y., will be at 1:30 p.m. and the contest will be telecast by WITN-TV.