Memorial of Hope

Natalia Cooper

The events of September 11 are permanently embedded in our nation’s collective psyche. As the anniversary of that tragic day approaches memorials, fundraisers, and other remembrances are beginning to be announced. For the past month, the media has been playing out their own ethical dilemma about advertising practices, scheduling plans and other such issues.

Over the past few months, the Interfaith Campus Ministry took on the challenging task of planning appropriate events in remembrance of 9/11. The planning began in July when Reverend Adrienne Berry-Burton and Chaplain Maggie Cahill met with Dean Stephanie Janey. It was agreed that the Interfaith Ministry would spearhead the planning for a 9/11 memorial.

A committee was formed and in their initial meetings Berry-Burton said they “focused on what it is we wanted to offer people as an experience and what it is we didn’t want to offer.” Part of those decisions came from talking about what we need to do as a nation and what we need to think about as an international community, “because we really are an international community at UMass Boston.”

Last year, when people were struggling to deal with those unprecedented events, Berry-Burton explained that people on campus were “flocking in to use the chapel, to come and find someplace where they could feel closer to God and pray and deal with all the confusion and absolute grief they felt.”

Both women at the on-campus chapel explained that they wanted to focus this year’s events on healing and looking toward the future with hope. The focus on healing and hope “was something that was a consensus right away,” said Maggie Cahill, “We’ve been very careful in our selection of activities not to re-traumatize people. I don’t think anybody needs that.”

The events of the day (see sidebar) include a moment of silence and an Amazing Grace Bagpipe Procession, which will start at the Quinn Administration Building and end up at the grassy knoll between McCormack and Wheatley Halls.

“Everyone recognizes that it’s going to be a tough, tough day,” said Dean Janey, whose office helped to coordinate the events of the day. “We want to have a remembrance, we want to also provide the support that people may need to deal with it.” Janey also echoed the sentiments of the two women from the on-campus ministry by saying, “The theme for the day is hope as opposed to despair.”

According to Cahill, the “centerpiece of the day” is the Wall of Remembrance and Hope, which will be in the Ryan Lounge all day. The 4 by 9 foot surface will be a place where people can write their own messages of hope or memories from that day.

A similar wall was placed outside the Wheatley Cafeteria last year shortly after 9/11. That wall stirred up a bit of controversy when unidentified students used it to express anti-Arab and pro-war sentiments. When asked if she expects such a situation to reoccur Berry-Burton said, ” That has been my quiet concern. My hope is that people will talk about what good thing they want to have happen, in positive terms, terms that will be palatable to every somebody.”

“My hope is that whoever chooses to write on that banner, is choosing to come with a positive focus for community and for peace,” Berry-Burton added.

“But the bottom line,” Cahill said, “is we don’t have control over that. But we have really tried to adopt a tone of being positive, helping to heal, and empowering people to look beyond.”

Both women are confident that there is a good balance of events offered for students, faculty, and staff. At noon in the Ryan Lounge, a faculty panel discussion will take an academic look at this day and its effect.

Ongoing support services will be available at the Interfaith Chapel in the McCormack Building, the Wellness Center (McCormack Building, room 613, first floor), the Counseling Center (Quinn Building, room 039, second floor) and Health Services (Quinn Building, room 040, second floor).

Also, two television monitors will be tuned in to media coverage of the anniversary of this tragedy. One television will be located in the Ryan lounge and the other in the Wheatley Lounge on the fourth floor.

In the afternoon, a service and reception is set to conclude the day’s events, and will be held from 2:30pm to 4:00pm in the Ryan Lounge. Dean Stephanie Janey, Chancellor Jo Ann Gora, Rev. Berry-Burton, and Ms. Cahill are all scheduled to make remarks and/or prayers during the reception. Two students, Esther Smith and Omar Bukhari, will present reflections on the day.

The keynote speaker for the event is Virginia Straus, the executive director of the Boston Research Center for the Twenty-first Century, a local peace organization that deals with reconciliation issues.

In an effort to include evening students, the Memorial of Hope Service and Reception will be videotaped and shown on a video loop in the McCormack Building’s first floor lounge beginning at 5:30pm.