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Readings from the 9/11 Ribbon Garden

Sept. 11, 2002--In a stirring bilingual performance, four members of the Professional Theatre Training Program from four different parts of the world told the story of the UD Ribbon Garden and read from selected ribbons during the campus Candlelight Commemoration ceremony Sept. 11.

The actors, all graduate students, told how UD students, faculty, staff and community members began inscribing their thoughts on yellow ribbons three days after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

After writing their thoughts on the ribbons the streamers were tied in a Ribbon Garden that stretched across The Green in front of the Morris Library and Memorial Hall, the site, one year later, of the commemoration.

Beneath a flag draped from Memorial Hall’s south portico, last year the garden grew to include more than 4,000 messages, expressed in more than a dozen languages. In the Ribbon Garden, people stood silently, reading the thoughts of the community. Some of those thoughts were angry. Some frustrated. Some confused. Some hopeful. Some prayerful.

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The Ribbon Garden grew for 10 days, until the flags flying at half staff in America returned to full staff. Then, the ribbons were carefully collected, and their messages were transcribed and preserved by volunteers from the campus and the community.

Some 350 of the ribbons were on display for students to read as they filed through Memorial Hall Wednesday evening on their way to the memorial service. Because of the large turnout, the ribbons will be displayed Sept. 12 and 13 in the East Lounge of the Perkins Student Center.

Also erected in Memorial Hall for the commemoration were two plaques—one honoring alumni whose lives were lost Sept. 11, and one honoring alumni and friends who lost family members.

The sentiments on the ribbons read at the Candlelight Commemoration expressed heartfelt sentiments that ranged from grief and fear to hope and encouragement.

“We are the voices of our community, as we expressed ourselves in the pain of Sept. 11, 2001. These are your words,” actor Matthew Schwader of Chicago told the gathering.

Schwader, Sarah Norman from Zimbabwe, Zaki Abdelhamid from Jordan and Andrea Ferraz from Brazil then read the following messages from the ribbons:

Terror only exists if people allow it to terrorize them.

Freedom is not free. Our nation found this out with the tragedies from this last week. I pray that all of the families of the victims can find comfort, and I want to honor all the rescue workers at the site, one of which is my father. This country has shown that we will not be defeated and have come together in spirit and hope. My last wish is that we keep in mind that all Muslims and Middle Eastern people who live in this country are not responsible. If we treat those people with racism and hate, then we are almost as bad as those who committed the evil deeds against our nation. May we fight this evil and find peace and may God bless America!

[In Spanish] Con un sentimineto de hermano, estamos con ustedes. ¡Viva America! [English: With brotherly love, we are with you. Long live America!]

Instead of looking on the negative side of the situation, look at the positive – our country has united as one, and we have all realized what it means to be an American. Stand proud! God, please look over those who are injured, mourning or grieving. Help those who are confused find comfort. Most importantly – take care of our troops!

Now is the time we all must come together and support one another. We are all Americans regardless of race, ethnicity or religion. God bless us all, all those lost and all those grieving. We shall overcome.

On Sept. 11, 2001, America saw firsthand the face of evil. They tried to divide us with their common hatred and took thousands of lives to try and prove their power – but they did not succeed. My pride in being American lies in the fact that instead of drawing away from one another in fear, we stand together in our love for humanity and for our country in the name of liberty and justice for all. Lincoln himself said, “United we stand, divided we fall.” The only true way to fight this is through understanding and mercy. I pray for the many lives lost in N.Y. and Washington, as well as for the families and friends who have lost them. This is the price of cruelty and ignorance. Let us stand together and prove to the world that America is not defined by either of those things. God bless America!

Hold your head high! Together we are one.

I once gazed up at the World Trade Center in amazement at what man can create. Now all that’s left to look at is how much man can take away.

Our eyes and ears have been opened, but more importantly we have opened our hearts. To all those who were victims and those who sacrificed their lives trying to help others – you will not be forgotten!

Our world is forever changed and will never be the same.

In light of all that happened you have to hold strong and make the best of the situation. Don’t give up, and help those who could use an extra hand or shoulder. God, bless those who have been affected by this tragedy.

Words cannot express the pain in my heart. To think… other countries have been living in and through terrorism. I wish there was a simple cure. My heart goes out to everyone. I can only hope and pray we make the right decisions politically. I couldn’t handle seeing more innocent lives being lost. I especially send my love to family and friends directly affected. I also give my best to all those in uniform. I pray the future does not hold in store for them what I think it does. How many lives must be lost?

Peace and understanding – may it come to those left behind.

This is a day I will always remember, and my heart will forever go out to the families and victims of this terrible, senseless act.

As we take time to mourn, let us remember that we will laugh again. We are strong people who will not give in to the fear. Live life and love!

Sadness, anger, confusion, helplessness – these are just a few of the many emotions felt by this country on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001. This may be one of the most difficult times our country has had to go through, and certainly one of the most trying. Watching the news, hearing the stories, brought tears to my eyes. The comfort of my friends and family helped me so much…. I’m not sure what the future will bring, but I do hope that an end is put to incidents like these and that we will forever be proud to be members of this country.

After 9/11, let's work for heaven. Let's not dwell on our recent brush with hell. "To everything there is a season" ... Shalom [Hebrew: peace].

Sept. 11, 2001. A day of infamy – remember Pearl Harbor and the heroes of the Twin Towers – [written by] a Pearl Harbor survivor.

May we never forget those who died and may the world learn a new respect for human life.

As a human being, I hurt for the loss of innocent victims. I am in the Air Force in an aeromedical unit. I am ready to defend the innocent people that were lost in this tragedy and to defend my country. I am proud to stand up for our country and I'm ready to do so. I have a husband and son, and I am afraid. However, I know that defending our country is the best gift that I can give it.

May this event promote peace and understanding instead of hate and intolerance. Our prayers are with the victims, their families and the relief workers.

Dad, I'm sorry you lost so many coworkers and friends. Thank God you're all right.

[In Japanese] Nidoto konna koto ga okinai yooni. Hayaku ironna hito no kanashimi ga kiemasu yooni. [English: May something like this never happen again. May many people’s sadness quickly disappear.]

Someday, your children will say to you “Where were you when this happened?” Hopefully, the future history books will contain happy endings. Don’t answer violence with violence. Peace and love.

Tragedy comes but the human spirit never dies.

We will become stronger as a nation as a result of this ordeal.

I wish I could do more than pray or give blood. I will never forget this time in my life as long as I live, nor will I ever feel completely safe again. Hope and pray is all we can do while the waiting makes everything so difficult.

This ribbon symbolizes the lives lost in the horrific trauma our nation faced, Tuesday, 11th day of September, year 2001. This is for the people who lost a brother, a sister, a parent, a friend. This is for those who wake up every morning without breath to breathe or joy to live. For all those injured or hurt; for those who died or are dying. This ribbon symbolizes the innocence and youth the people of the United States once had. This symbolizes the terror that lives in the hearts of our children. We, as a nation, cannot and will not succumb to the acts of terrorism. We stand united against all enemies foreign and domestic. Once a proud nation, we will someday look [at] this groundshaking, life altering day in history and talk not of the lives lost, but more of the lives still left to be lived.

Though thousands of lives were lost on Sept. 11, I pray that some good will come out of this.

This is in memory of every American mother, father, son, daughter, cousin and friend who died on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001. I have never felt more anger and sadness and grief, but I have never been more proud of being an American and defending my independence and the reason why we are in the United States of America.

Love, peace, patience, determination, unity, resolve, compassion, hope, friendship, strength, caring, generosity, spirit, survival, kindness, purpose, faith, charity, will, perseverance.… We will go on.

[In Italian] Non sono mai stata così orgogliosa di far parte di questa grande nazione, esempio di dignità e di grande civiltà anche in un momento così tragico come quello dell'11 settembre 2001. [English: I have never felt more proud about being a part of this great nation, an example of dignity and unique civility even during a time as tragic as that of Sept. 11, 2001.]

To all those who grieve now – may all these find peace. May we learn to love, not hate.

Article by Beth Thomas

Photo by Kathy Flickinger