UMass Lowell conducted a dignified and inspirational rededication of the school’s 9/11 memorial today along the banks of the Merrimack River. Called “Unity”, the student designed memorial was initially dedicated on May 14, 2004 and sits along the Riverwalk on the University’s East Campus. “Unity” resembles a short granite cylinder with the upright end consisting of twelve angular slabs of granite. One of those slabs is highly polished and inscribed with the date September 11, 2001. It sits a bit higher than the other eleven slabs and points across the river towards the original buildings of Lowell Technological Institute, now the UML North Campus. On the vertical sides of the cylinder are inscribed the names of the seven alumni (or family members of alumni) who died on 9/11. Their names are:
Patrick J Quigley IV
Jessica Leigh Sachs
John A Ogonowski, ’72
Robert J Hayes, ’86
Brian K Kinney, ’95
Douglas A Gowell, ’71
The rededication ceremony was presided over by Chancellor Marty Meehan who observed that the rain that had fallen throughout the morning today (it halted just before the ceremony began) was a complete contrast to the sunny, beautiful weather that blanketed the northeast on September 11, 2001. A contingent from the UMass Lowell Marching Band opened with the National Anthem while the colors were posted by the Air Force ROTC Color Guard. The school’s chaplain, Rev Imogene Stulken, did an excellent job with her remarks, urging all in attendance to remember and reflect. Lowell National Historic Park Superintendent Michael Creasey then spoke. His remarks follow:
It is an honor to join you today at this memorial overlooking the Merrimack
River. Lowell became, because of this river and it is fitting that the
Unity Memorial is located along its banks.
It represents the power of place — the power of nature, the power of
ingenuity, and the power of resilience.
National Parks are the beholders of our nation’s stories – stories of
triumph, forces of nature, inspiring acts of valor, hero’s and heroines,
and events that symbolize America’s struggle to survive as a nation.
These places that represent these stories are vital for learning and public
dialogue about our evolving national narrative. They are also places for
inspiration and contemplation.
We stand here in this contemplative site looking for inspiration from a
tragic event that took place a decade ago. I cannot imagine what it is like
to have lost a loved one on September 11th, 2001, but I want to say as a
father, a son, and a brother that I have been re-shaped as a person by
hearing the stories about those who died.
These people and those affected by the event will be remembered through
memorials such as “Unity”, Flight 93, the Pentagon, the World Trade Center
and others around the world. The spirit of those nearly 3,000 American’s
will be best kept alive through all of us asking how we can give more to
our communities and to our American ideals.
The City of Lowell, the University and the creation of this National Park
are an expression of faith in the future. We are the community builders,
the stewards and the storytellers of Lowell and its people.
The most moving part of the ceremony came next. Seven current UML students sequentially approached a microphone near the memorial. Each read the name of one who died on 9/11 and recited short biographies that included their occupations, what brought them to be on one of the planes that day, and who their survivors were on 9/11. A member of the band then rang a bell. Once this roster was complete, a bagpiper played “Amazing Grace.” Each family was then presented with a potted wedge of the ornamental grass plant that grows in the middle of the memorial. The grass plant replaces a flame at the center of the monument and because it disappears each fall and returns each spring, is symbolic of rebirth. The ceremony ended with the band playing “America the Beautiful.” The following video contains a short clip and some photos from today’s ceremony: