Coordinated by ArtsCarolina, an umbrella organization for various artistic groups on campus, the ceremony took place on the one-month anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"Today is the end of the 30-day mourning period that President Bush designated for America's firefighters," said Amy Brannock, ArtsCarolina director. "So we decided it would be an appropriate day to remove the wall."
Before inviting Chapel Hill firefighters and onlookers to begin taking down the wall, Brannock reflected on ArtsCarolina's decision to build this memorial in the wake of the events that shook the nation last month.
"Ideas flowed, and the one that rose to the top was to create this place, a focal point on campus where people could come together to express their inexpressible feelings: a place to cry, a place to hurt, a place to contemplate, a place to mourn," Brannock said.
The ceremony began with instructor Julie Fishell's Drama 51 class performing classic Greek drama and mask improvisation around the wall. "The Greeks are the root of the exploration of human suffering and loss and power," Fishell said. "We tell these stories that somehow seem so distant, but they're not at all."
Chapel Hill Fire Chief Dan Jones, flanked by 15 local firefighters, thanked ArtsCarolina for keeping alive the spirit of colleagues killed in the attacks.
"One of the things that many people ask firefighters is, `Why do firefighters go in when everyone else is coming out?'" Jones said. "And the answer that you hear over and over is, `Because it's our job.'"
The ceremony ended with a performance by the drumming group Rhythm Alive!, under the direction of Matt Savage, director of the Marching Tar Heels percussion section.
"We had a choral group when we erected the wall, but it felt like while we were taking it down, it was going to be noisy ... and it just felt like we needed more energy," Brannock said.