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“Unity” 9/11 Memorial Rededicated

Community Gathers to Honor Victims

911 ceremony

From left, Kevin Webb, Field Conductor of the UMass Lowell Marching Band, readies to ring a chime while Christian Ellwood  of the Student Veterans Organization reads the biography of John Ogonowski and Sade Jeanjacques  of the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Alanna Kealy of Silver Wings look on.

By Julia Gavin

The “Unity” memorial sculpture dedicated to the UMass Lowell community members lost on Sept. 11, 2001 was originally dedicated in 2004 to be a meditative, inviting, warming and comforting spot for visitors to remember and reflect on the event. Now, at the 10th anniversary of the attacks, the University community and family members of the victims have gathered to rededicate the sculpture to remembering those lost.

“It encompasses what it hoped to do and will live on in the memory of the lives lost,” says Andre Gorgenvi, an alumnus and former member of the Student Government Association who worked to have the memorial created. “The memorial brings back painful memories, but also inspires hope.”

During the ceremony, Chancellor Marty Meehan encouraged attendees to keep those lost in their thoughts and support those left behind to mourn loved ones.

“September 11th, 2001 was many things to many people: a tragic day where Americans were brutally murdered, a call to arms, and a turning point in American and world history,” says Meehan. “But above all, it will always be about the more than 3,000 Americans who were killed and the 30 families in the Merrimack Valley area who lost a loved one on that tragic day.”

The Chancellor also offered support from the University community, inviting the friends and families of victims to continue visiting the memorial by the Merrimack River beside Leitch Hall to reflect and remember their loved ones.

Pastor Imogene Stulken from the University’s Campus Ministry also encouraged people to visit the memorial, asking that they not only remember and reflect on lives lost, but also consider how the tragedy can be reformed into peaceful actions. 

“How can we best honor their memory? How might each of us commemorate this day with service?” Pastor Stulken poses to visitors. “’Unity’ asks us to rebuild and repair- rebuild trust and repair relationships across communities. Say to yourself when you visit, ‘To bring more peace to the world, I will ...’.”

During the ceremony, UMass Lowell students read short biographies of the alumni and University community members lost in the attacks 10 years ago. A member of the marching band rang a single chime to mark each life lost.

“The ceremony was beautiful and moving,” says Peg Hatch, former wife of John Ogonowski '72, who piloted American Airlines Flight 11. “Having a student represent each lost person almost puts a face to each victim.”

Hatch also attended the original dedication and has visited the memorial to find comfort in the peaceful spot.

“You never get over it,” she says, “but you integrate it into your life and keep going.”

Christian Elwood, a senior finance student and president of the Student Veterans Association, says he was honored to read for Ogonowski during the ceremony.

“September 11 was the whole reason I enlisted in the Marine Corps,” says Elwood. “It’s good to commemorate the attacks and it was a very nice ceremony.” 

State Rep. Tom Golden, who spoke at the ceremony along with Lowell National Historical Park Superintendent Michael Creasey, encouraged surviving family members and the University community to let go of negative feelings and move forward positively in their remembrance of the tragic day.

“We have to stay positive, if not, they win and the victims wouldn’t want us to do that,” Rep. Golden says. “For the victims, their tomorrows are gone. We are charged to remember them.”