One window in my office faces the Oak Grove. On a Friday morning last September, the view from that window was different from anything I have seen before or may ever see again: There were people—thousands of them—from one side of the Oak Grove to the other.
Amid the speeches and music of that morning’s memorial service, many individuals in the huge crowd seemed lost in their own thoughts. Each of them — each of us — experienced September 11 in a personal, unique way. Four days later, this service brought the university community together, but it didn’t make the shock or the grief go away.
The IUP family extends well beyond those in the Oak Grove that day; nearly eighty thousand households receive this magazine. Here are a few of the many ways in which the terrorist attacks have affected our very large family.
The Ones We Lost
Donald Jones ’80 in McGregor Hall in 1979
Both Donald Jones ’80 and William Sugra ’93 worked for Cantor Fitzgerald in the north tower of the World Trade Center — Jones on the 105th floor and Sugra two floors below. Theirs was the first tower hit.
Jones was a bond broker who commuted from Bucks County. Sugra lived in Manhattan and worked for e-Speed, Cantor Fitzgerald’s electronic trading unit. El Sugra doesn’t think her son and Jones knew each other or what they had in common.
Bill Sugra ’93
“Bill loved IUP,” she said, “and his father and I had many visits there. We would come [from Allentown] for football games and take a bunch of his friends out to dinner.”
Jones lived in McGregor Hall during his IUP days. A friend, Kate Spellman Wechsler, shared with the magazine some photos from those years. In them, she said, it is obvious “Don was a great guy who was so full of life.”
The Relief Worker
Soon after September 11, Indiana, Pa., Red Cross volunteer Deborah Duffalo Coad ’85, M’90 was recruited for a role in mass care in New York City. For three weeks in the fall, she worked at a respite center at St. John’s University Manhattan Campus, two blocks from the World Trade Center site. Workers from the site came to the center to shower, sleep, and eat.
Coad marveled at how much the Red Cross was appreciated. “We couldn’t do this if you weren’t here,” one worker told her.
The first time she saw the devastation, Coad said, she felt “heart-stopping awe. When you see the destruction, it’s hard to believe the towers ever existed.” The site, she said, is huge: “When we walked around the entire barricade, it probably took us an hour and a half.”
Captain Michael Pickering ’92 commands an Army National Guard company that was among those sent to New York City on September 11 to provide security at the World Trade Center site. For a second stint that began in November, his company was part of a large-scale Guard deployment to Manhattan for tasks that included transportation and entry-point security. A Safety Sciences major when he was at IUP, Pickering lives in upstate New York.
When United Airlines Flight 93 slammed to earth in Somerset County on September 11, key parts of the wreckage, including the cockpit and first-class section, ended up on (and in) land owned by Tim Lambert ’92. As a landowner, Lambert was one of the first to tour the site after the cleanup in company with county coroner Wallace Miller. The opportunity was especially precious to Lambert, a reporter for WITF, Harrisburg’s public radio station.
In news photos of the crash site shown around the world, the blackened hemlock trees in the background follow Lambert’s property line. Those trees, charred by fire and bathed in jet fuel, have been cut down. Weeks after the crash, when Lambert made his tour, the smell of fuel still hung in the air.
Miller told Lambert that 98 percent of the plane had been recovered. Even so, Lambert saw tiny pieces of debris everywhere. One of them, he found, was part of a wedding invitation, singed by fire. Flight 93, Lambert said, had carried more than seven thousand pounds of mail, in addition to forty passengers and crew members, their luggage, and four hijackers.
The Family Far Away
Internationally known neurologist Demetrios Velis is a native of Greece and a resident of the Netherlands. He received a bachelor’s degree from IUP in 1975 and a Distinguished Alumni Award in 2001. Velis sent the following message to the university community:
On Friday, September 14, 2001, my family and I along with millions of other Europeans stood still at 12 noon to pay tribute to the thousands of United States citizens and other citizens of the world who fell victim to the unspeakable and dastardly terrorist acts perpetrated in New York City and Washington, D.C., on September 11, 2001.
I wish to convey to all you the message that my family and I together with our fellow citizens here in the Netherlands express our utmost grief for what has happened. Furthermore, I would like to assure you that the outpouring of sympathy for the surviving victims of these attacks, for the families of the deceased, for the United States and for what it stands for has been on an unprecedented scale for the whole of the European Union.
Our thoughts are with you. We wish you strength in this hour of need.
Heemstede, The Netherlands
At IUP, long lines of would-be blood donors flooded campus collection sites soon after the terrorist attacks. The memorial service on September 14 was only the beginning of the university’s official response. A series called 9/11: A Community Discussion has fostered lectures and seminars on a variety of issues related to the attacks.
During Family Weekend in October, faculty and students from the College of Health and Human Services, including those from the IUP Academy of Culinary Arts, prepared and served dinners in Ackerman Hall’s Allenwood Restaurant. Proceeds went to the Windows of Hope Family Relief Fund. Scores of other groups held fund-raisers and collected and donated money for the families of victims.
Since September 11, the world is different and we are different. The years of struggle and sacrifice to come will consume us all. In late November, former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen spoke in Fisher Auditorium. In his talk, he quoted Walter Lippmann’s message to his classmates at the Harvard Class of 1910 reunion in 1940.
“You took the good things for granted. Now you must earn them again,” Lippmann said and Cohen quoted. “For every right that you cherish, you have a duty which you must fulfill. For every hope that you entertain, you have a task you must perform. For every good that you wish could happen…you will have to sacrifice your comfort and your ease. There is nothing for nothing any longer.”