At 8:46 a.m., the UNC General Alumni Association held its annual ceremony for six alumni killed on Sept. 11, 2001, when American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
GAA President Doug Dibbert led the small ceremony, and was joined by Chancellor Carol Folt and first-year student Dylan Melisaratos. Dibbert gave the opening remarks.
“Our University community came together on Polk Place Sept. 12, 2001,” Dibbert said. “Regrettably, in the days that followed, we learned that we had lost six very special people.”
There were six alumni killed: Karleton Fyfe ’92, Mary Lou Hague ’96, Andrew King ’83, Ryan Kohart ’98, Dora Menchaca ’78 and Christopher Quackenbush ’79.
“As we continue to recall how they died, we should also remember and celebrate how each lived,” Dibbert said.
Dibbert read a brief biography of the six alumni as Folt placed six hydrangea flowers in a vase in honor of each victim.
Melisaratos, the nephew of Christopher Quackenbush, a 1979 UNC graduate who was among those killed in the attacks, also shared some remarks about his late uncle.
“In addition to my two cousins, my mother, three uncles, grandfather, grandmother and great-grandfather, who all attended UNC, I am glad that I am able to carry on my family’s legacy here," Melisaratos said. "And more importantly, carry on my uncle’s legacy in the community that he so very much valued and loved."
Melisaratos spoke about his uncle’s legacy of giving and charity. Quackenbush, a founder of investment banking firm Sandler O’Neill and Partners, also started the Jacob Marley Foundation, which provided the opportunity for underprivileged youth to attend Mets games.
While current students like Melisaratos were only toddlers on Sept. 11, 2001, next year’s incoming class will include the first UNC students born after the eventful day.
Keith King, associate editor of the Carolina Alumni Review, does not think current and future students are too removed from the day because of their youth.
“I think it’s one of those events that’s so much in the national consciousness that even though the students who might start arriving next year weren’t born in it, they’ve grown up in it,” King said. “9/11 has become an experience that’s not just one day, but every day since then that we’re still living with and we’re still dealing with.”
Jennifer Guy, GAA coordinator of class reunions and special events, said that while future students may not have the same memories of 9/11 as those before them, the event will maintain the same significance it has had every year.
“Sure, you might not be there, but when you hear those stories and people continue to tell those stories, as they should be told, it’s going to be felt in some way,” Guy said. “How deep? I think it could vary by person, but it is always going to be felt.”
The 9/11 Memorial Garden was given to the University by the UNC Class of 2005 in September 2007. According to the GAA’s website, the Class of 2005 “designed (the garden) to reflect on ‘the event that defined their college life.’”
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