Eighteen years ago, on Sept. 11, 2001, the United States of America faced unprecedented terrorist attacks. Two of the four hijacked planes from that day, American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175, crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, and nearly two decades later, families across New York state are still affected by the attacks.
To commemorate the anniversary of the tragedy, five of Binghamton’s New York State University Police (UPD) officers gathered in front of the Couper Administration Building to raise the American flag at precisely 8:46 a.m., the time that Flight 11 crashed into floors 93 through 99 of the North Tower, in honor of the victims of the 2001 attacks. University students, faculty and staff were in attendance.
Of the UPD officers who raised the flag, Lieutenant Orlando Torres, a military veteran, shared his thoughts on the importance of remembering the events of Sept. 11, especially on college campuses across the country.
“I think it’s important, and I think it’s an honor to be able to participate in it and do this,” Torres said. “I’m prior military, so it means something to me. I deployed because of what happened, so I just think it’s important for people to remember and to be able to do this for them.”
BU President Harvey Stenger said he feels gratitude toward those who lost their lives 18 years ago.
“I’m glad and I’m proud that we continue to annually recognize the loss of life on Sept. 11 and I hope that we continue to do it for as long as possible,” Stenger said.
Others also said remembering the heroes, the lives lost and the nationwide impact of Sept. 11 will remain relevant and vital to the country. Sydney Atendido, a senior majoring in English, and Kaitlyn Lange, a senior majoring in economics, both said they believe in the idea of continuing annual events of remembrance, particularly on college campuses.
“[We need to remember] just so that it’s not a forgotten topic,” Atendido said. “It was one of the biggest tragedies of our country and should always be remembered.”
The annual event presents the Binghamton community with opportunities to perform acts of kindness, such as donating blood to the Red Cross, donating food and creating greeting cards for deployed soldiers in memory of the victims of the attacks. Of the lives lost, 15 were BU alumni, who were also honored on a display on the Spine.
In the same spirit of remembrance and reflection, the Rohr Chabad Center for Jewish Student Life and Hillel at Binghamton ran their annual Mitzvah Marathon on the Spine.
The Mitzvah Marathon featured a sandwich-making station where students are able to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the local homeless population. Shoshana Bursztyn, a member of Chabad and a sophomore majoring in biology, spoke on why remembering Sept. 11 through this event was meaningful to her.
“It’s refreshing to see people doing good deeds on a day of such tragedy,” Bursztyn said. “I lived in Brooklyn at the time, so all the paper from the buildings were on my front lawn. I was only a baby, but my mom said it was awful.”
The marathon drew in dozens of students to participate in their activities, including students who had personal connections to the attacks, such as James Caracciolo, a sophomore majoring in mechanical engineering. Caracciolo provided an account of his uncle and neighbor who lived adjacent to the towers and took people into their homes to provide shelter. He said the events of that day continue to be imperative to the unity of the United States.
“There’s not a lot of things anymore that everybody can come together and agree on,” Caracciolo said. “Everything is polarizing now, even movies, so I think if there are more things like remembering 9/11, we could come together more and help heal the nation.”
UPD Chief of Police John Pelletier said the attacks had a profound impact on the country, and are important to remember to prevent similar instances in the future.
“I was actually in the United States Army when the attacks happened, teaching ROTC at Penn State,” Pelletier said. “Just about every American remembers that day and where they were and what they were doing at the time. [I remember] talking to new cadets at the time and trying to help guide them through what they were seeing as it unfolded. I think it’s extremely important to remember what happened on 9/11, and looking forward, we always have to remember our past so we can be better for the future.”