Elon community to commemorate the history of Sept. 11 with events this week

Among the events is a roundtable discussion Wednesday featuring President Emeritus Leo Lambert, among others, will be held at Elon Community Church and discuss the long-lasting impact of the Sept. 11 attacks on the Elon campus and its community.

For the 20th anniversary of the deadly terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Elon University will commemorate those lost and affected on that day with a series of events and ceremonies.

A central event will be “Elon and 9/11: A Retrospective,” a roundtable discussion scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 8, at 7 p.m. at Elon Community Church at 271 N. Williamson Ave. President Emeritus Leo Lambert, professors Ann Cahill and Ann Bolyn, Chaplain Emeritus Richard McBride and Assistant Vice President for Annual Giving and Alumni Engagement Brian Feeley ’03 will be the panelists at the event.

Members of the Elon University community gathered in Alumni Gym on Sept. 12, 2001, to reflect on the terrorist attacks the day before.

Mark Dalhouse, director for global educational initiatives and assistant professor, is one of the organizers of the discussion, and said the location was selected because the church was where people first started gathering following news of the attacks. “The panelists will be remembering the day, they’ll be talking about how 9/11 has impacted the institution and students and alumni,” Dalhouse said. “I think it’s going to be a really rich evening.”

On Sept. 11, 2001, the Elon University community had gathered for College Coffee, as they have every Tuesday morning since 1984. This particular College Coffee was a special one with the grand opening of Rhodes Stadium and the first actual home football game in Elon’s history coming up that Saturday.

The next day, over 1,000 students, faculty and staff gathered in Alumni Gym to share their thoughts and reflect on what they had experienced in the last 24 hours and what the future could potentially hold.  

On the 10th anniversary of the attacks, the university collected remembrances of how the attacks were processed on campus. Among those contributing their thoughts was Jana Lynn Patterson, associate vice president for student life and dean of students.

“It was to be a special College Coffee to celebrate Rhodes Stadium and the morning was beautiful, a perfect Elon morning,” said Patterson said in 2011. “I was at Fonville Foundation making last-minute preparations for the celebration. A few minutes last, Dr. Lambert convened the Emergency Response Team, and he made the announcement at College Coffee. I spent much of the rest of the day with students from NYC and D.C. areas trying to connect them with their loved ones.”

Read more reflections from 2011 on the attacks from members of the community here.

The hope is that this week’s events will provide members of the community to again reflect on the attacks and their impact. Dalhouse, who teaches a class on the Sept. 11 attacks, said he had the idea for how to commemorate the 20th anniversary for some time. After conversations with Lambert, Feeley and Brian Pennington, director of the Center for the Study of Religion, Culture and Society, Dalhouse said the idea of the roundtable was formed.

Student mourn the lost of nearly 3,000 in the Sept. 11 attacks in Alumni Gym the next day.

Dalhouse said he hopes people who attend the event will walk away from the roundtable with a greater sense of how the trauma that resulted from the global paradigm shift impacted campus. Many members of the current generation of students were not alive in 2001, he said, so it’s important to keep the history and memory of those affected by the attacks alive.

“I think it’s important to remember, but in remembering to look ahead and see what we can take from the past that can make us informed global citizens today,” Dalhouse said.

Other commemorative events for Sept. 11

Tuesday, Sept. 7

  • At a special College Coffee at 9:40 a.m., President Connie Ledoux Book will offer remarks to commemorate the Sept. 11 attacks.

Thursday, Sept. 9

  • At 9:50 a.m., the Thursday morning inspiration series Numen Lumen will be center around “reflections.” Thursday through Saturday there will be a historical and memorial poster exhibit from the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in the Sacred Space, with memorial altar highlighting different dimensions of loss and suffering created by the Truitt Center. Anyone is welcome to drop by and explore the exhibit.
  • At 4:30 p.m., a faculty panel sponsored by the International and Global Studies program and the Political Science and Policy Studies Department will discuss “20 Years After: The Legacies of 9/11 and the ‘war on terror’.” The panel will include Professor Jason Kirk, Assistant Professor Sandy Marshall, Associate Professor Baris Kesgin, Professor Safia Swimelar and Professor Sarah Wagner of George Washington University. Full details are available here.
  • At 7:30 p.m. in the Lakeside Meeting Rooms, the Student Government Association will host its September Town Meeting devoted to remembering the Sept. 11 attacks, as well as how students have dealt with some of the more significant topics in recent years, such as COVID-19, school shootings, race relations and political division.

Saturday, Sept. 11

  • At 8:30 a.m. in the Numen Lumen Pavilion, Elon will host a multifaith breakfast and brief ceremony commemorating the attacks and those lost.

Helping plan and coordinate events this week are the Isabella Cannon Global Education Center, President’s Office, the Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life, the Provost’s Office and the East Neighborhood for Civic Engagement and Social Innovation.