Krentzman Quadrangle, normally filled with commotion as students rush to class, fell silent Wednesday as members of the Northeastern community mounted flags to honor victims of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
The event was hosted by Huskies for Israel, a pro-Israel student group at Northeastern. The club’s president, Elie Codron, a second-year international relations and economics combined major, said he thought the school community had not properly honored 9/11 victims in the past and decided to do something about it.
“I was talking to some friends, asking them what happened last year during 9/11 on campus,” said Codron, who had been participating in N.U.in England at the time. He said he was surprised to find out nothing large had taken place.
Codron began reaching out to other student groups across campus who he thought would be willing to help organize the event. Several clubs expressed interest in creating a memorial and, by September, Codron and Huskies for Israel were backed by 10 other groups, including Northeastern University Real Estate Club, Delta Tau Delta and the Student Government Association.
“Remembering the people is the most important part,” said Cameron Castonguay, a third-year bioengineering major and a member of Phi Gamma Delta who volunteered to hand out flags between classes.
Castonguay is part of his fraternity’s philanthropy committee and said he believed the memorial was a perfect way to get more involved with other student groups at the university.
Codron said he was stopped by many people throughout the day. One Northeastern professor, he said, expressed thanks and offered flowers in honor of Candace Lee Williams, a Northeastern student who was killed in the attack.
“One teacher came up to me and said her student was Candace Lee Williams,” Codron said. “She thanked us for organizing the memorial, which was beautiful.”
Williams was a passenger on one of the planes, American Airlines Flight 11, that was hijacked during the disaster. The plane had crashed into the same tower she had worked in for her co-op months before. The plaque in honor of Williams, which sits underneath a tree just outside Dodge Hall, was surrounded by flags and bouquets of flowers on the day of the memorial.
The student groups that volunteered time also collected money for The Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund. The organization, according to its website, was created to provide “support to the families of military personnel with ties to Massachusetts who have died as a result of active duty service post 9/11/2001.”
The fund was created in 2009 by local families who had suffered losses in the 9/11 attacks. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass), who passed away in 2009, had also aided in the development of the fund.
The memorial on Wednesday raised a total of $252 for the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund.
Casey Leffers, a third-year English and communication studies combined major, said he was 2 years old when the attacks happened. When he was a Boy Scout, he and his troop would plant flags every year in memory of those who died. He said that honoring the victims every year is important, which prompted him to volunteer to be part of the memorial on campus.
As a resident of California, Leffers said he feels very removed from the impact of the attacks. Moving to the opposite side of the country to attend school provided him with a different perspective.
“I know people my age who are from New York, from New Jersey, who felt really, really personally affected and felt the ripples of it through a lot of their childhoods,” Leffers said.
He said that is why a memorial is so important: It gives people an opportunity to recognize the disaster in addition to concentrating on their grief.
“People from all walks of life have come out to the event,” said Billy Opet, a second-year electrical engineering major and member of the Student Government Association.
Opet said he believes the importance of the memorial also lies in its ability to spread awareness.
“[The memorial] shows that when clubs are working together, there is so much that can be done,” Codron said.
Codron said he hopes this memorial will set an example for other clubs on campus and that it is the first of many school initiatives that will bring a variety of student groups across Northeastern together.
“That was my big mission: to unite all these different clubs to do something beautiful,” he said.
Originally published in The Huntington News.
Contributed by The Huntington News correspondent Nolan Piccola.