The country was devastated by the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that took the lives of nearly 3,000 people in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania. The Trinity College community mourned the loss of six alumni: John C. Hartz ’59, Lindsay C. Herkness III ’65, George E. Spencer III ’73, Richard B. Hall ’74, Stuart T. Meltzer ’90, and Scott M. Johnson ’97.

On that day in 2001, Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs and Professor of Political Science Sonia Cardenas and Associate Dean for Faculty Development and Associate Professor of Computer Science Takunari Miyazaki had just started as assistant professors at Trinity.

After learning about the tragedy, Cardenas taught “Introduction to International Relations.” She said, “I still remember those students and the moments of silence we shared. I remember that more than our conversations. I remember learning that numerous members of the Trinity community had lost someone close. I still think of that when I see some of those people or hear their names. 9/11 defined my introduction to Trinity, and it changed indelibly how I taught.”

Miyazaki learned about the attacks on the radio: “I tried to read the news on the web, but no news sites were accessible, with too much web traffic, I think. Back then, there was no video streaming.” He said the students appreciated how the Trinity community came together. “Thanks to Acting President Ronald R. Thomas [H’02], we all gathered on the Main Quad, facing the Chapel in the late afternoon. I recall everyone just praying for peace.”

The September 18, 2001, edition of the student newspaper, The Trinity Tripod, focused almost entirely on the aftermath of the national tragedy and how it impacted students, alumni, faculty, and staff. The paper printed a lengthy firsthand account of the day by Aaron Burrows ’95, an alumnus then working as a senior medical resident at Saint Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan. 

September 11 Homecoming service, fall 2001.
The fall 2001 Homecoming memorial service.

On October 20, 2001, alumni who returned to campus for Homecoming joined students, faculty members, and staff members in a memorial service for those who died. The service, which was held in the Chapel, included readings by representatives of the Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist faiths.

Acting President Ronald R. Thomas H’02 said, “September 11 is a day that all of us will remember forever, for we have all been deeply affected. We grieve for the lives lost and those changed forever within our family of Trinity alumni. As an educational institution dedicated to learning all we can from this tragedy, we remain committed to the pursuit of truth and justice. As educators, we must understand in order to overcome. Today we stand together and in so doing, we will prevail.”

Read more in the Winter 2002 edition of The Trinity Reporter.