by Catherine Brewer ’20
As the sun began to burst through the clouds on Wednesday morning, Dean Toomey ’22 sat on a stone bench in front of the Arthur F. and Patricia Ryan Center for Business Studies and watched the line of students and faculty trickle down the path and off to their 8:30 a.m. classes.
Seeing the American flag raised over the lawn, many stopped to join the crowd. “I actually lost my aunt, who is my godmother, in 9/11,” said Toomey. “She was in the South Tower. So every year, I think it’s right for me to pay my respects for all the stuff that she has done for me and my family. And for all those first responders and those victims.”
To honor all who have been affected by the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, members of the Providence College community gathered at the annual memorial hosted by the Providence College Republicans.
“I believe that the 9/11 terror attacks are something that this country should never forget and will never forget,” said Krista Minniti ’20, the president of the student organization. “I know personally at PC there are many, many students, faculty, and staff that have all been affected by it, whether it’s family, friends, and just hearing stories of others. So I think it’s important to honor their memories and honor their lives with this every year.”
While the memorial has been installed differently in previous years, Minniti explained that her group decided to raise the American flag away from the ground this year in the interest of respect.
Andrew “Andy” J. Sullivan, the executive director of the Physical Plant, helped students secure the flag in place as he waited for the ceremony to begin. “Personally, 9/11 has a lot of special meaning. I was active duty navy at the time and it really changed the course of my life,” said Sullivan.
He explained that despite having planned to leave the navy, he chose to serve his country for another 20 years. “I think it’s important for us to continue to remember those events. Certainly, the freedoms that we have and appreciate everything that we have here in the world, and of course here on campus,” he added.
Members of the Providence Police Department were also invited to the memorial’s blessing, which was made by Father Alan Piper, O.P., at 8:45 a.m. Students and staff were encouraged to offer special intentions for friends and family members.
Toomey encouraged students to take more moments to remember and honor the victims of 9/11, whether that be through prayer, conversation, or simply reaching out to someone you know.
“In high school, on 9/11, we would always have a prayer to start class, and I always thought that it’s small things like that that go far, at least for me,” he explained. “I wish I saw that a little bit more with people here, just talking about their experience and how it has affected them, and the pros and cons of how everything is after that fatal day.”