Owen Whaley ’24
On September 11, 2001, thousands perished in devastating attacks on the American homeland by the terrorist group Al-Qaeda. Seven Holy Cross alumni were lost that day: John Ryan ’78, Thomas Burke ’85, Edward Brennan ’86, Neilie Heffernan Casey ’90, John Farrell ’91, Todd Isaac ’94, and Beth Quigley ’97.
For Kaitlyn Romaine ‘22, the attacks hit close to home. “I’m from New York,” she told me. “I can see the outline of the World Trade Center from near my house. The thing about the attacks is that it was just people waking up to go to work. And then they didn’t come home.”
Last Friday, Romaine saw the completion of a project she had been working on for weeks: 2,977 American flags were placed outside Fenwick Hall, one for each life lost. The display is the first of its kind at Holy Cross.
“When you look at each flag, you are looking at one person who didn’t come home that night,” Romaine said. “You are looking at a family they didn’t come back to. I hope it gives students an opportunity to pray and reflect.”
John Pietro ’22, who helped Romaine organize the project, had similar hopes. “Really, I want students to gain a sense of the enormity of it all,” Pietro said. “By seeing a flag for each person who lost his or her life, I think it emphasizes both the individual value of human life and the collective costs of the attacks.”
Romaine’s efforts were made possible through the support of over a dozen students active in the Alexander Hamilton Society, College Republicans, and the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps.
“I helped lay the flags down in rows, but eventually we realized they wouldn’t all fit,” Monica Regan ’23 recalls. “And then the scale of the tragedy became a little more real.” Regan was only days old when the attacks occurred, but remembers the fear she experienced after a terrorist bombing in Boston when she was in middle school. She hopes the display resonates with those who were impacted by the attacks and offers space for healing. “It’s important to remember, with all the political turmoil we’re going through right now, that we can at least come together for this,” she said. “To see so many students stop at the display and reflect has been touching.”
Organizers hope that the display will become a fixture of the College’s commemorations of the attacks for years to come.
“I hope this becomes a tradition that will be continued,” Pietro said. “The school would do well to commemorate the attacks and to never forget.”