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University Remembers 9/11, Calls for Commitment to Prevent, Halt ‘Isms’ that Impact Lives

ODK 9/11 Commemoration

More than 50 people gathered at Hawkins Pond Monday to remember those who perished 22 years ago in the 9/11 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center during the annual Omicron Delta Kappa commemoration ceremony.

plaque 9-11The national honor society SUNY Plattsburgh chapter has hosted the ceremony since Sept. 11, 2002, having erected a plaque there in memory of 1984 alum Robert Sutcliffe, a broker for Harvey, Young and Yurman who was having a breakfast meeting at Windows on the World on the 107th floor of the North Tower, and William Erwin, a 1992 grad and broker with Cantor Fitzgerald, which had offices on floors 101 to 105 in the North Tower. Both perished in the tower collapse.

Honored, too, was New York State Trooper Brian Scott Falb, a 9/11 first responder and 1992 alum, who contracted cancer and died in March 2017.

henn and malatino"We have chosen to hold this memorial ceremony each year so that we might hopefully assist in helping others heal from the tragic events that took place on that day,” said Nicole Malatino, president of the ODK Plattsburgh chapter. “We believe that there are timeless lessons that we all need to be reminded of, in hopes that this type of event does not happen again.

“At the forefront of these lessons is to teach individuals, groups, communities, states and countries to resolve conflict in non-violent and peaceful ways.”

Love and Compassion Allowed us to Persevere

After a moment of silence, Robert Henn, ODK vice president, offered words of remembrance.

“Pain reminds us that we are human, but tragedy is what changes the way we go about being human,” Henn said. “It drastically changed our approach to national security, heavily altered both domestic and foreign policy and bred entirely new and sometimes divisive perspectives on U.S. patriotism.

“However, although fear may have consumed us that day, it is love and compassion that allowed us to persevere onward.”

Though he wasn’t yet a year old on Sept. 1, 2001, he said growing up “in what many refer to as a ‘post-9/11 world,’ I do and will always remember how the generations before me so reverently used those same feelings of love and compassion I mentioned before to not let loss impede our nation’s ability to care for one another and, most importantly, to build back stronger than ever before.”

Henn said that while his generation did not watch the towers fall, “we did watch the Freedom Tower rise, and that is proof that we have the power to rebuild in the face of diversity,” he said.

‘Find a Way Back to Wellness’

dei allison heard Allison Heard, vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion, said it was fitting all were gathered in remembrance of those nearly 3,000 lost in the Trade Center, but it is also important to recognize that Monday kicks off SUNY Plattsburgh’s Wellness Week.

“The reality is that when we experience something traumatic, we must find our way back to wellness,” Heard said. “We must heal; and while healing is important, the best-case scenario is to hope that future generations never have to experience that type of pain or harm.”

Heard said that when people think of the story of 9/11, “some people will tell you it is about Americans. It is an ‘Us vs. Them Story.’ If we had to use a pronoun to talk about 9/11, I would say ‘We,’” she said.

“I think it is a ‘we’ story; it is our story. Let us use our ‘his’-tory, our ‘she’-story, our ‘we’-story to remember.”

Yet, she said, while gathered today so as to never forget this dark period of our history, in some parts of the United States, we are making intentional efforts to stop teaching some forms of history like African American history or the history of the Holocaust.”

‘Who Will Encourage us to Remember?’

“Who gets to decide? Who has the power to make us forget? Who will encourage us to remember? Today, let’s make a commitment to remember, to use our history as an opportunity to cure, halt and prevent the disease of terrorism, of nationalism, of racism, of sexism, religious persecution, heterosexism and the many isms that impact our lives,” Heard said.

ODK 9-11 2023She implored those gathered to remember to speak up not only about the kind of terrorism that brought about 9/11 or the war in Ukraine.

“We must (also) remember to speak up when we see the type of terrorism that takes the form of what occurred in Jacksonville, Florida, when three Black people were killed in Dollar General. We must speak up about terrorism when it takes the form of a neo-Nazi group that spewed hate and wore Nazi and anti-LGBTQ+ insignia outside the entrance to Disney Springs shopping center and outside Disney World in Florida last week.

‘Go One Step Farther’

“So when you think about today, while it is important to focus on 9/11, I need you to go one step farther,” she said. “You don’t have to move far; you just have to move a little bit,” she said.

Calling to mind the reasons people enter the medical field — to improve the lives of other people — she said, “I need you to think about how you will execute your role that is part student or employee and part doctor or nurse to cure our world and make us all healthier and free from the disease of hate. Because to remember is to make a commitment to never forget.”

— Photos, Story by Associate Director of Communications Gerianne Downs

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