Princeton University remembers alumni victims of Sept. 11 terrorist attacks

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Gray clouds hung over the Princeton University campus on Sept. 11, where 14 unlit candles rested on a covered table inside the memorial garden dedicated to the alumni killed in the terrorist attacks 17 years ago.

The table occupied the middle place of prominence, around which a small crowd gathered in the late afternoon for the Sept. 11 memorial service the university has each year. Each candle represented an alumnus who died — 12 men and two women who either had been undergraduate or graduate students.

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“We gather here on this day every year, we gather in this sanctified place … that we have set aside to remember all those lost on that day and the days following, but particularly 14 alumni of this great institution whom we lost that morning,” said Alison L. Boden, Princeton’s dean of religious life and the chapel.

Later, she would light each candle, one at a time, as each of the 14 names was read aloud, followed by a ring of the bronze bell in the garden. Once the service was over, no one moved or said a word, some with their head bowed or eyes looking straight ahead, before slowly filtering out.

The interfaith memorial included prayers or reflections from Jewish, Islamic, Christian, Buddhist and Hindu clergy.

“And so we stand here today, on the day of remembrance, and think we can respond to hatred in the world with radical love,” Rabbi Eitan Webb said. “Love which transcends reason, love which we do not know why we have, simply because we can and so we do.”

Webb read a passage from the book of Isaiah, of the earth being “full with the knowledge of the Lord,” but as he was giving his remarks, the roar of a jet could be heard overhead.

In Princeton and around the country, the nation remembered when four hijacked airliners crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Shanksville, Pa.

President Donald Trump, at a memorial service in Shanksville, honored “the memory of nearly three thousand souls who were murdered on this day 17 years ago.”

On Sept. 11, 2001, Imam Sohaib Sultan, a Muslim chaplain at the university who participated in the campus memorial, was a 22-year-old senior at Indiana University. Speaking after the memorial service, he reflected on that day.

“It was a very transformative experience,” he said. “Because as a Muslim leader, I was suddenly called upon to build bridges of reconciliation and to comfort those who were mourning and to comfort those who were afraid, in my community, of backlash.”

The 14 Princeton alumni killed on Sept. 11 were William E. Caswell, Robert L. Cruikshank, Robert J. Deraney, Philip T. Guza, Christopher N. Ingrassia, Karen J. Klitzman, Catherine F. MacRae, Charles A. MaCrann, Robert G. McIlvaine, Christopher D. Mello, Joshua A. Rosenthal, John T. Schroeder, Jeffrey D. Weiner and Martin Wohlforth.

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