Students, residents and tourists across the city participated in remembrance events Sunday to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
GW students participated in a variety of events to commemorate the attacks throughout the day. At 8:46 a.m., the time the first plane hit the north tower of the World Trade Center in 2001, students paused to observe a moment of silence. Throughout campus the sounds of bells could be heard as students who were awake stopped to reflect on the event.
“Coming from Chicago there isn’t the same feeling because no one experienced the day as personally as the people in this area,” freshman Anne Digluilio said.
The 9/11 Victims Memorial Quilt was on public display at the Smith Center from Friday to Sunday. University officials said that more than 1,150 people visited the memorial during its three-day stay at GW.
Corey Grammel, a founder of United in Memory Memorial Quilt Inc, organized the project after visiting Ground Zero in October 2001. Inspired by the efforts of rescue teams and the outpouring of support by the community, he constructed the idea of a memorial quilt to honor and comfort those affected by the Sept. 11 tragedy.
“After I was confronted with this disaster face to face, I kept asking myself what I can do help people … to comfort the families,” Grammel said.
More than 3,000 individuals each sewed a “memorial block” representing one victim of Sept. 11. As visitors viewed the quilt, some cried while reading the names and biographies, while others just stood in silence.
“The quilt in the Smith Center was a powerful reminder of what happened on 9/11. Seeing all the squares really made me realize how personal and tragic the entire event was,” freshman Beathany Thomaier said.
The Student Association, Program Board and Students Defending Democracy also hosted a vigil on Sunday night at University Yard. The event was held in honor of the nine GW alumni who died on Sept. 11 as well as all others affected by the tragedy. Approximately 200 students gathered at the event.
More than 10,000 people participated in The America Supports You Freedom Walk, a two-mile trek across the city meant to commemorate the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks and to honor the military community, which was affected by the Pentagon attack in 2001.
The walk, hosted by the Department of Defense, was led by four cadets from the Commonwealth Challenge Academy in Camp Pendelton, Va. Participants left the Pentagon at 10 a.m. and ended on the John F. Kennedy Hockey Fields near West Potomac Park before congregating on the National Mall.
Organizers said the walk drew supporters nationwide, including veterans, current servicemen and family members of attack victims. Only a handful of GW students attended the event. The GW College Republicans organized a group of about 15 students to participate in the walk.
“The Freedom Walk was a tremendous opportunity for our organization, and the people of D.C., to honor those lives lost on 9/11, and rekindle the great American spirit that carried us through that horrific day,” said Gary Livacari, GW College Republicans director of political affairs.
Critics of the walk believed that the Bush administration is using the event as propaganda for the war in Iraq.
“They seemed to care more about support for the war in Iraq than the remembrance of the terrible events that took place,” said Emily Brock, a New Yorker who came to D.C. to participate in the walk.
Following the walk, participants congregated on the National Mall for a concert led by country musician Clint Black. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld appeared on stage with Black.
Rumsfeld said, “It’s hard for free people to comprehend the mix of extremism and hatred that leads terrorists to murder innocent men, women and children.”
-Katie Rooney contributed to this report.