Moravian College Remembers September 11

Tenth anniversary marked with candlelight vigil, song, prayer and performance.

They stood around an illuminated tree in silence -- in remembrance -- each one holding a candle.

Each holding a candle to remember a lost life in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on America.

On the campus in Bethlehem Sunday night, America's sixth-oldest college commemorated the 10th anniversary of the attacks through candles, song, stories, prayer and performance.

"For remembrance, we pray that the unity of spirit be a lasting memorial to those who died," Moravian Chaplain C. Hopeton Clennon said. "For hope, let it strengthen us against all who try to destroy us."

More than 100 people attended the 30-minute candlelight reflection, trading lines with Associate Chaplain, Rabbi Allen Juda, on the poem "Remembering Tuesday, September 11, 2001" as the college's Memorial Tree stood before them.

"On Monday, we emailed jokes/On Tuesday, we learned better."
"On Monday, we waved flags signifying our cultural diversity/On Tuesday, we waved only the American flag."

The attacks, though, hit home when Joseph T. Perro, known as "Officer Joe" as a campus police officer, went up to the podium to speak.

Ten years ago, Perro worked as a police officer in New York City.
On Sept. 11, 2001, he rushed to the scene to assist and then spent several days helping out at Ground Zero.

"Nothing could prepare me for what I saw," Perro remembered. "Buildings that I passed daily were gone."

Perro said emergency crews dug hoping to find survivors.

"True heroism is remarkably sobering and very undramatic," said Perro, his voice trembling at times. "It's the urge to serve others at whatever the cost. I'd like to thank all of you for taking time to remember."

Earlier in the evening, "Tribute 9/11," a play written by Christopher Shorr in 2002 was presented in the packed Prosser Auditorium.

The performance featured inspiring stories and reflections of those who were impacted by the attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C.

"We're in a strange limbo," he said. "We hate to remember but we don't want to forget. We  wanted to begin the process of moving on. Ten years later, the language of the play still rings true. We will always be in a state of contemplation, mourning and trying to understand."

Six actors stood on stools, with a narrator Julie talking about how she wanted to search for stories to help her heal.

She found Pam, who worked in the south World Trade Center Tower; Ron, who worked in the financial district; Mark, whose son was at school in lower Manhattan; and Kathleen and Paul, who were near the Pentagon, when it was attacked.

Pam's story focused on her struggle to get out of the tower and  her description of all of the devastation around her.

"The implosion came. It was like the building was being squeezed like a can of spaghetti," she said. "The plaster ceiling was crumbling. There was metal and glass everywhere and fireballs shooting down the elevator shaft. Then the black smoke starting rolling through."

Some observations were read by Moravian students about their remembrances when they were in grade school during the attacks, seeing the horror on television and trying to understand just what was happening to the country.

After the stories, the actors placed stones on a larger rock, every stone representing 10 lost lives of the nearly 3,000 who died in the attacks.

The production ended with an introduction and recognition of first responders and authorities from the region.


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