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Alumni react to the attacks:
Read their first-person accounts


Dawn Goodlove



Throughout history, Cornellians have gravitated to King Chapel to seek solace in times of national tragedy. They congregated there at the outbreak of U.S. involvement in the two World Wars, after the assassinations of Kennedy and King, and on another somber day in U.S.history, Sept. 11, 2001.

In the hours after the terrorist attacks in the eastern United States, students gathered at familiar campus settings: the Rathskeller Snack Bar, where televisions blared nonstop news coverage; The Commons, where they scribbled thoughts on large erasable boards; the Orange Carpet for group discussions and informal counseling sessions with Student Affairs staff; King Chapel for a prayer service.

“Like many of you, I feel anxious, angry, and sad,” President Les Garner told about 500 people gathered in King Chapel the afternoon following the attacks. “We are here to learn together about the events and to lend support to each other, to members of our families and our friends affected by these events, to victims unknown to us, and to our leaders, who will respond to the events and who, with our trust, will seek a path to peace.”

Seniors Lisa Fry (right) and Bindy Comito comfort each other following a campus service Sept. 14, the national day of prayer and remembrance.

The disbelief, shock, fear, anger, and confusion across campus was magnified for several students, faculty, and staff with relatives or friends in Washington, D.C., and New York City—including some who work at the Pentagon or had worked at the World Trade Center. None were reported killed in the attacks.

John “ Jay ” Rowland, a senior economics and business major from Grayslake, Ill., and member of the Iowa National Guard, was on three-minute standby, awaiting his call to action.

“My bags were packed, my truck was outside ready to go,” he said. “When I went into the King Chapel service, and the chaplain called me up to say a few words, I realized the support I had at Cornell. After that my attention was on my job and what needs to be done, and not on being afraid.”

Alumni living in the Washington, D.C., or New York City areas received a mass e-mail from the college. Are you OK? Let us know what you are experiencing. Several did, posting to an online message board responses that included eyewitness accounts of the attacks and
recovery efforts in New York City.

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