"This is a difficult day"; SUNY Cortland ceremony honors 9/11 victims

Erin Boylan, Director of Alumni Engagement at SUNY Cortland, lights a candle to commemorate each of the seven SUNY Cortland alumni who perished on 9/11. An eighth candle was lit in memory of all the lives lost that day (photo by Sara S.)

On a cool, crisp Monday evening, students, staff and members of the community—including emergency personnel from both the City of Cortland and Cortlandville—gathered on the steps of Corey Union on the SUNY Cortland campus to honor and reflect on the nearly 3,000 victims of 9/11, the day terrorist attacks left the nation reeling in shock and grief.

SUNY Cortland’s 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony marked the 16th anniversary of those tragic events, and President Erik J. Bitterbaum opened the memorial reflecting upon the outpouring of love and solidarity from around the world for the lives lost. He imparted with a message of benevolence in looking forward.

“This is a difficult day,” Bitterbaum said. “As you reflect on this day, it requires us to help each other; to be kind and understanding. It’s a form of grace to be kind to others, and I hope you will always remember that,” he said.

Joseph Aabye, Chief of Cortland EMS, a student-based emergency response group on campus, delivered an evocative speech, focusing on the bravery of the men and women first responders who selflessly rushed into burning buildings to save lives.

“It was not the civilians running away from the buildings that stuck with me, it was actually the first responders rushing into the burning, collapsing buildings,” Aabye said. “They all had the same selfless goal: to save as many people as possible. They put forth an effort that is beyond words, paying the ultimate price,” he said.

Aabye implored the students and community to take time out of their day to stop and thank police officers, firefighters, and medics—to show unwavering gratitude for the heroism and bravery they exemplify daily.

Erin Boylan, Director of Alumni Engagement on campus, gave a speech in remembrance of the seven SUNY Cortland Alumni that were lost that day.

“The alumni we lost that day were a lot like us; they had laughed, learned, and loved on the same campus we walk on every day,” Boylan said. “Tonight, we remember them and all the other lives taken that tragic day.”

Boylan lit a candle to commemorate each of the seven SUNY Cortland alumni who perished on 9/11. An eighth candle was lit in memory of all the lives lost that day.