About 100 people gathered in the Marvin Center Tuesday night to remember the victims of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
On the 17th anniversary of the tragedy, the vigil honored those who lost their lives, including nine alumni. The event was co-sponsored by GW Military and Veteran Services, GW Veterans and Sigma Delta Tau.
The event began with musical performances by the GW Troubadours and a rendition of the national anthem by Veronica Scarlett, an adjunct professor of music. Andrew Sonn, the Military and Veteran Student Services director, introduced University President Thomas LeBlanc, who spoke briefly about how the 9/11 attacks affected GW.
LeBlanc said while many current students may not have a “personal memory” of the attacks, each of them understands the event’s significance. He added that despite “acts of hate and violence on the country’s core values,” the selfless actions of many Americans in the aftermath of the tragedy inspire hope.
“There were so many acts of heroism and sacrifice that shone brighter that day, including from alumni of this University and many selfless first responders and other unsung heroes,” LeBlanc said. “We honor their memories by redoubling our resolve to affect positive change in this world and to live in service to others.”
Hank Molinengo, the senior associate dean for administrative affairs at the law school, said he was working in the Pentagon as an executive assistant during the attack and remembers the event “like it was yesterday.”
“We were rocked out of our seats as the plane hit the opposite side of the Pentagon,” he said.
Molinengo said Pentagon employees returned to work the next day and found the building was still burning a full day after the attack.
“All I can say is the world changed that day,” he said. “125 people lost their lives in the Pentagon and about 3,000 perished in 9/11.”
Junior Gavin Coble, a member of GW Veterans, said the attacks sparked a “rare” instance of national unity, where those not directly affected by the tragedy are still touched by the 17-year-old event.
“It’s just one of those instances where you as a country or as a community come together and recognize the instant and the incredible weight it still carries on many people today,” he said.
Sophomore Vivek Thomas said although many students on campus are unable to remember where they were during the attacks in 2001 — unlike their parents — it is important for students to remember and honor those who lost their lives, so the tragedy will not be forgotten.
“The GW community has a lot of history with what happened and remembering it is important,” Thomas said. “Just as generations go on, the importance and sanctity of it will always endure.”
Freshman Regan Sweeney’s family has a strong connection to the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Her father, an active duty member of the military, worked at the Pentagon, but took that day off, she said.
“I don’t know if I’d still have my dad around if he did go into work that day,” she said.