September 11, 2001, left a deep scar on American hearts. Over the past fifteen years, individuals have had time to reflect on what 9/11 means to them and how it affected both their communities and their relationship to our country. University Archives would like to take time today, on this solemn anniversary, to reflect on the impact of the terror attacks on the University of Maryland and its surrounding communities.
Our university has a direct tie to the events of 9/11, as we lost two former faculty members, Charles Falkenberg and his spouse Leslie Whittington, on the plane that crashed into the Pentagon. The family was traveling to Australia where Leslie was going to work at the Australian National University in Canberra.
On September 12, 2001, the University of Maryland and The Diamondback focused on how the repercussions of 9/11 affected the campus community. President Mote cancelled all campus events and designated September 12 as a day for mourning, reflection, and grieving. Throughout campus, The Diamondback reported scenes of students hugging, crying, and praying together. Although everyone was affected differently, the university community pulled together to support one another.
At 1:00pm on September 12, the University held a memorial on McKeldin Mall to mourn and remember those who lost their lives at the Pentagon, World Trade Center, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Over 8,000 people paid their respects by lining the Omicron Delta Kappa fountain with colorful flowers following the service, creating a little bit of beauty on a day overshadowed by such darkness. At the conclusion of the ceremony, the flowers were collected and buried in front of the Main Administration building at the foot of the mall. That site is now the University Peace Garden and stands in memory of the events of 9/11.
The terror attacks left a lasting mark on the University of Maryland. Students were deeply saddened but immediately willing to help with blood drives and other services to benefit those most personally affected. As the 2001 fall semester continued, and more hardship beset the campus, increased counseling and support services were made available to students. Six years later, in 2007, the Memorial Chapel dedicated the Garden of Reflection and Remembrance. Each year, the Walk of Remembrance is held there to honor those who lost their lives on 9/11.
We hope you will take a moment today to remember the Falkenberg family and the nearly 3,000 individuals killed on that tragic day.