Healing, surviving, uniting

Herald Staff Report

One year ago we watched in horror as our world crumbled down around us. We cried, we felt pain, we cried some more. Yesterday, we lived those moments and those feelings all over again. We waved our flags, we wore our “I Love New York” t-shirts. We still wept, we still felt pain, but after it all, we found we are stronger. This is how our campus and our city reacted – Sept. 11, 2002.

The Hill

“For what’s to come is better than what’s been. Celebrate a new beginning and leave the rest behind.”

– Amazing Tones of Joy, Sept. 11, 2002

These words echoed over DUC South Lawn last night as emotions of strength, remembrance and unity reverberated from hundreds of Western students at a vigil planned by Omega Psi Phi fraternity and Delta Sigma Theta sorority.

The crowd came from their dorm rooms, their apartments, their dinners and their homework. They circled the Guthrie Bell Tower. They filled the benches, the sidewalks, the steps and the surrounding lawn.

Armed with only candles, they battled all the emotions they thought had long passed.

This is how a campus heals.

It gets its strength from its students, its faculty and its staff. It takes feelings of anger, hate and sorrow and turns them into friendship, love and support.

A campus heals by holding a candlelight vigil not only to remember and reflect on the events of Sept. 11, 2001, but to spread a message that racism and hate should have no place on the Hill.

And it heals by coming together not long after the sun rises over its treetops and shortly after the sun sets behind its hills.

Just a few minutes past 7:30 a.m. yesterday, tears began streaming from the eyes of Elizabethtown graduate student Robin Fulkerson.

Fulkerson was one of many students, faculty and staff who gathered on the front lawn of the Kentucky Building to honor and remember those who died last year in the terrorist attacks.

She dressed in a white t-shirt bearing the words, “September 11, Always Remember.” She cried as soon as yesterday’s ceremony began.

The event marked a time for reflection and remembrance on the one-year anniversary of a day that was still clear in the minds of many.

LaGrange sophomore Samantha Raglard still remembers exactly what she was wearing on the day of the terrorists attacks. She remembers calling her friends and family about the events. Now she wants to be sure she doesn’t forget.

Raglard spent the day in her dorm room writing in her journal. When her children ask questions about the attacks years from now, she will be ready.

“I can’t believe it’s already been a year,” she said.

This is how a campus heals.

By taking time out. By sitting on a hill overlooking the Kentucky Building or stopping their tasks for a remembrance ceremony because an event so far away hit so close to home.

Kimmie Powless, a freshman from Evansville, Ind., sat on a concrete bench outside Central Hall yesterday.

She placed her hand over her heart.

“I feel it right here,” she said.

Powless said the attacks were a symbol of hate toward everyone in the country, and although they occurred in New York, everyone was attacked. Powless said she’ll remember the day for the rest of her life.

“It doesn’t take an anniversary to make me remember,” she said.

This is how a campus heals.

By moving on – but never forgetting.

Cris Riviere, a senior from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and a member of Omega Psi Phi fraternity, said he hopes the unity and emotion students felt at the bell tower last night won’t disappear tomorrow.

An event like 9-11 may bring people together temporarily, but Riviere said it’s up to students to make it a permanent bond.

A campus forms a permanent bond by sharing hugs and tears. Franklin junior Tabitha Briggs, a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority, said the events of 9-11 were rooted in hate, and all students, no matter their color or creed, need to forgive.

This is how a campus heals.

“Last year changed us,” Briggs said, “and tonight has changed us, … but now we’re stronger.”

The city

When I am called to duty, God

whenever flames may rage

Give me strength to save some life,

whatever be its age.

– A Fireman’s Prayer

The Rev. Mark Linder stood before more than 100 firefighters, police officers and emergency medical service personnel. He solemnly read a prayer to the stern-faced listeners.

“We remember those who stepped forward so swiftly to fight the good fight on our behalf against the evils of terror, some of whom made the ultimate sacrifice with their lives,” he said.

A memorial service was held yesterday morning at the Moltenberry Fire Station for the victims of the terrorist attacks.

A towering American flag, 20 feet by 30 feet, draped down from a fire truck ladder outside the station. A bell, hanging from a 1931 fire truck, was rung to commemorate when the Twin Towers collapsed.

This is how a city remembers – how it pays respect to the 343 firefighters who rushed into the World Trade Center last year and never left, and the victims that never had a chance to say goodbye.

This is how a city far from New York and Washington, D.C., survives.

It survives by congregations of all religions coming together to recollect, by citizens marching from one end of town to the other in the name of love – not hate.

It survives because its people won’t let it die. Because of people like a young boy on 12th Street who stood in his driveway and waved to marchers in the city’s first-ever “Walk Against Hate.” In his hands, he held a red, white and blue soccer ball.

A city survives when children barely three feet tall wave flags nearly half their size during a play at the Corvette Museum. The flickering light of candles scatters among the crowd, reflecting on the events of a year ago.

“It makes me proud to live here, in our country,” said Bardstown sophomore Megan Willard. “It’s really good to see so many people out here.”

A city draws strength from a man who leads its own heroes every day.

Sitting in his office last year, Bowling Green Fire Chief Gerry Brown focused on the television. Like many others, he couldn’t tear his eyes from the unfolding tragedy.

This year was different.

Instead of watching helplessly as so many lost their lives, he dedicated Sept. 11, 2002, to remembering the victims.

That’s how we all survive.

Herald reporters Beth Sewell, Joe Lord, Molly O’Connor, Hollan Holm, Cassie Riley, Shawntaye Hopkins, Adriane Hardin and Megan Engle contributed to this story.