On the morning of September 11, 2001, the United States of America was jolted into a new reality. Terrorists crashed hijacked airplanes into both towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., killing and injuring thousands of people. In rural western Pennsylvania a fourth hijacked plane crashed before reaching its target, killing all 40 aboard.
Life in America took on new meaning in the wake of these enormous tragedies. Personal safety and security could no longer be taken for granted. President George W. Bush appointed the nation's first Director of Homeland Security, and America along with allied forces, launched a war to rout out terrorist networks in Afghanistan and worldwide. Americans became more wary and vigilant, but also more unified in their belief that freedom and democracy are principles worth defending.
These horrific and unprecedented attacks stunned the nation and the world. Never before had our country been attacked in such a monstrous way on American soil. Despite the overwhelming loss of life and devastation, the strength and resilience of the American people shone through as strangers reached out to one another for support, both during the crisis and afterward.
Police, firefighters, and other rescue personnel rushed to the scenes to give aid, often at their peril.
Tragically in New York, many rescuers lost their lives trying to save people trapped in the burning twin towers as both buildings collapsed upon them. And several passengers aboard Flight #93, which crashed in Pennsylvania, reacted heroically by storming the terrorists, and forcing the plane to crash to prevent even further devastation.
The afternoon of September 11, Susquehanna students, faculty, and staff joined in prayer for the victims, their families, and the nation. In the weeks that followed, students organized relief efforts to raise money for the disaster fund.
Though physically insulated from the New York City devastation by some 200 miles, the Susquehanna University community lost two of its graduates there. Colleen Supinski, Class of 1996, an assistant trader for Sandler O'Neill & Partners, L.P. on the 104th floor of the south tower, and Chris Vialonga, Class of 1993, who worked as a currency trader at Carr Futures on the 92nd floor of the north tower. This memorial is an outgrowth of the expressions of sympathy, respect and love for Colleen and Chris that have poured into the university as gifts from their families, friends, classmates, teammates, sorority sisters, fraternity brothers — and from individuals they never knew but whom they touched. They are sorely missed, much loved, and they will always be remembered at Susquehanna.