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MIT Prepares for Anniversary of Sept. 11

By Kevin R. Lang


MIT has announced a full schedule of events leading up to the one-year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, including talks by New York City firefighters and an all-day vigil.

MIT established a Sept. 11 Anniversary Committee, with more than 30 faculty, staff, and students, to coordinate remembrance events. Kirk D. Kolenbrander, special assistant to the president and chancellor, is heading up the committee.

“Over the course of the summer, we heard from quite a number of different people who were interested in participating in different ways,” Kolenbrander said. The committee worked to bring together interested parties, with an emphasis on involving students and faculty.

“The emphasis was really on creating an open environment for people to contribute events,” Kolenbrander said, referring specifically to forums sponsored by Science, Technology, and Society and the Center for International Studies, along with the Sunday, Sept. 8 events.

“Both exist because somebody said, ‘I’d like to make this happen,’” he said.

Reflecting Wall to be retired

After standing for nearly a year, the “Reflecting Wall” near the MIT Chapel will be retired as a focus of a memorial ceremony on Sept. 11 at 5:00 p.m. on Kresge Oval.

“We will mark the end of its service,” Kolenbrander said. “We want to be very sensitive to how we end its service.”

The Reflecting Wall was erected shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks as a memorial site. It was designed to replicate the exterior wall of the World Trade Center, and its flag has always flown at half mast.

The Kresge Oval ceremony is being sponsored by the Office of the Chancellor and the Office of the President, as an “all-community campus gathering” for students, faculty and staff.

In addition, the MIT Chapel will be hosting an all-day “Vigil for Remembrance, Peace, and Healing,” beginning at 9:00 a.m. and concluding in time for the gathering on Kresge Oval.

MIT pays tribute to volunteers

The first remembrance events begin on Sept. 8, with a tribute to local residents and members of the MIT community who helped raise relief funds, collected donations, and traveled to New York to assist with cleanup and recovery efforts.

“It came about mainly because there were just so many people that had done amazing things to help out,” said Gayle C. Willman, a faculty liaison in Academic Media Production Services. “MIT people spent a lot of time at ground zero.”

Speakers at the event will include representatives from the Fire Department of New York and other recovery workers, and the New York sanitation worker who sang “God Bless America” every morning at the World Trade Center recovery site will perform as well.

The event will be held in Room 10-250 from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Admission is free.

Before the tribute event, children ages 7-12 will have the opportunity to hear New York firefighter Bobby Barrett to speak about his work at the World Trade Center site, and about being a firefighter.

Registration for the children’s program is available in the MIT Activities Committee office in Walker Memorial.

Memorials come in many forms

Kolenbrander said that one of the committee’s goals was to provide members of the MIT community with a variety of ways to remember Sept. 11.

“We wanted to provide opportunities for personal and shared reflection, with the knowledge that that might take many different forums,” Kolenbrander said. “People are going to want to remember Sept. 11 in very different ways.”

The first of two faculty discussions held on Sept. 9, “MIT’s Responsibility in a Dangerous World,” is sponsored by the STS and will take place from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. in Killian Hall. The second, sponsored by CIS, will be held in Killian Hall from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., and is entitled, “Responses to Sept. 11: The U.S., Europe, and the Middle East.” Participants will include Professors of Political Science Stephen W. van Evera and Suzanne Berger.

Other events scheduled for Sept. 11 include an exhibit in the MIT Museum, entitled “Museums Celebrate America’s Freedoms: Joining Communities in a Day of Remembrance” from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; an “open art studio for personal expression” in Lobby 10, and a seminar sponsored by the Security Studies Program and CIS. The seminar, entitled “9/11: The War on Terror a Year Later,” features speakers Nazli Choucri, associate director of the Technology and Development Program; Owen Cote; Harvey Sapolsky; and van Evera.

In addition, two lectures will be held on campus discussing different religious perspectives. “Cities and Resurrection: Jerusalem and Us,” and a panel on Muslim reactions to the Sept. 11 attacks will both be held that day.

Off campus, “Vigil of Light” gatherings will be held at Magazine Beach and the Weeks Footbridge from 7:45 to 8:30 p.m.

For a full listing of events, see .