9/11: A Tragedy That Will Never Be Forgotten
From its quiet hilltop perch across the river, the Stevens community became eyewitnesses to history — and unfathomable human loss — on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, when hijackers flew two airliners directly into the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers in Lower Manhattan, killing thousands.
Watching those traumatic and historic events from across the river, students, faculty and staff looked on with disbelief — some weeping, others almost in shock, The Stute student newspaper reported – as the tragedy unfolded.
Stute photographer Scott Molski ’04 made images from Castle Point of students and staff watching the towers burn. He even captured the terrible moment of the collapse of the North Tower, an enormous gray cloud of dust filling the Lower Manhattan skyline.
Nobody knew at that moment that Stevens alumni Jerome Lohez M.S. ’95, Edgar Emery, Jr. M.S. ’82 and Liming Gu ’91 M.Eng. '93; master’s student Joseph Pick M.S. ’02 (who received his degree posthumously); and former student Timothy Hargrave, previously a member of the Class of 1984, had perished in the tragedy.
Molski’s photograph of the tower’s collapse appeared on the front page of the newspaper in its Sept. 14, 2001, edition. The accompanying story, written by Lillian Chu ’04, was searing.
“People watched in horror as the buildings burned, many frantically calling friends and family who worked in the World Trade Center area,” reported Chu. “Billows of black smoke filled the clear blue skies above the towers. Staring in disbelief and shock, many saw the effects of the collisions as Two World Trade Center collapsed floor by floor.
“More and more people congregated outside the Howe Center, while some returned indoors to watch and listen to the news on the two working television channels on campus, CNN and Channel 2...Several even went down to the pier and the PATH station.”
Fearing for the community’s safety when more attacks might be coming, university administration swiftly ordered evacuations of Castle Point to the Howe Center’s Pierce Dining Hall and cleared the athletic field for possible helicopter landings.
Students were mobilizing, as well. Those trained as emergency medical technicians headed for ambulance crews and spent much of the night at a triage area in the Hoboken PATH station, waiting to treat what survivors might arrive by ferry. Members of Alpha Phi Omega, the service fraternity, traveled to the same station to help the injured make their way to local hospitals.
More than 600 gathered in Stevens’ Canavan Arena the next day for an ecumenical service. Stevens President Harold Raveche reflected upon the tragedy while urging tolerance and calm, calling on the campus community to recognize that the attacks were the acts of fanatics. Clerics of various faiths offered prayers for the victims and their families.
During the days that followed, students and staff joined long lines at local blood donation drives. Chi Phi brothers loaded up donated goods to be ferried across the Hudson from Jersey City to rescue workers at Ground Zero. The Pakistan Students Association and men and women’s fencing teams, among other organizations, held fundraisers and donated blankets or clothing to survivors.
Theta Xi fraternity brothers volunteered for recovery efforts, spending days and nights in Manhattan’s Javits Convention Center helping victims’ families search for their missing loved ones. Theta Xi brother John Di Capua ’02 was one of those who headed down to Ground Zero, moving debris as part of the wrenching rescue and recovery efforts.
“I worked the 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. shift in the bucket brigade and saw images of carnage and chaos that will haunt me for the rest of my life,” he later recalled.
Many in the Stevens community who were present that day felt the same way. And they will never forget.