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WMU remembers Sept. 11, 2001

WMU honors the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States with 10 stories of remembrance: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10

Employees create lasting memorial

by Jeanne Baron

Sept. 4, 2011 | WMU News

Soon after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a core group of University employees began working on creating a campus memorial devoted to the victims and survivors of those tragedies as well as their families.

The new monument was installed near Goldsworth Valley Pond and dedicated during a ceremony held on the first anniversary of 9/11 that was attended by more than 700 members of the WMU community.

Photo of WMU employee 9-11 memorial in Goldsworth Valley.
WMU Employee 9/11 Memorial in Goldsworth Valley
Among the other campus events taking place that day were a 100-strong Service of Reflection in Kanley Memorial Chapel, a Service of Remembrance in Miller Auditorium that drew 2,000 people and a Ribbon of Light candlelight vigil in which more than 3,000 candle bearers stretched for one mile across the main campus as they processed toward the newly dedicated memorial.

New faculty member in 2001 Allison Downey, now associate professor of teaching, learning and educational studies, sang "On the Day (September 11, 2001)," which she wrote and recorded immediately following the tragedy as a fundraiser for the families of victims. She performed "On the Day" at both the employee memorial dedication and at the 7 p.m. Service of Remembrance.

The monument developed out of requests several members of WMU's Administrative Professional Association made to Toby Boyle, an information technology staff member who was then APA president.

"When the attacks happened, I was at work, and like many of my colleagues, my first reaction was one of stunned disbelief," Boyle recalls. "Once the idea was broached by our members, I felt a responsibility to our campus community to be involved, and knew we had to act quickly to get the ball rolling and keep it rolling."

An Employee Memorial Committee was formed. By October 2001, planning and fundraising were under way by Boyle and fellow committee members George Eskro, Paul Hildenbrand, Dori LaChance, Jennifer Messana and Dr. Stephen Podewell.

Hildenbrand, now head of the business college's advising and admissions office, says what prompted him to serve on the committee was the idea that all employee groups on campus would in some way be contributing.

"...it truly was a gift from all the employee groups. But looking back in my memory, the thing that stands out the most to me was the dedication," he says. "We didn't want the dedication to be gloomy and depressing, but rather positive and uplifting. The events, and the people who spoke, made it just that. I remember so vividly seeing people from all over campus place flowers, or tokens of remembrance at the site."

The memorial was paid for through services and materials donated by WMU's Landscape Services and area businesses, as well as $2,700 in donations from every WMU employee organization at the time and their members—the APA, Police Officers Association, Professional Support Staff Organization, and the campus chapters of the American Association of University Professors and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees AFL-CIO.

The spot near Goldsworth Pond was selected purposefully and carefully as a quiet, secluded area for reflection and prayer.

"My goal was that this peaceful place would serve as a sanctuary for individuals seeking comfort, needing spiritual rejuvenation or wanting simple reflection," Boyle says. "I feel the memorial has become that for the University, as well as a way to honor and remember those who perished on 9/11 and in the wars that have followed."

WMU honors the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States with 10 stories of remembrance: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10