YSU's memorial to Sept. 11 includes a flagpole and trellises representing the World Trade Center towers.
By RON COLE
VINDICATOR EDUCATION WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- The day after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Sara O'Brien strolled across campus at Youngstown State University looking for signs of reassurance.
In particular, she was looking for a U.S. flag flying at half-staff.
"To me, that's a very powerful symbol," said O'Brien, 21, of Ashtabula, a senior education major.
"When I was on campus that day, I thought, 'You know, I haven't seen a flag around here. Don't we have a flagpole on campus?' We have big flags up at the stadium, but nothing that students readily see every day when they walk on campus.
"That's how it got started. It just took off from there."
In the next three weeks, O'Brien and senior business major Tony Spano raised $6,000 by selling about 1,000 "YSU/United We Stand" T-shirts to buy a 30-foot flagpole and fund construction of a Sept. 11 memorial on campus.
The memorial, which also features two 7-foot trellises representing the World Trade Center towers, will be formally dedicated during a campus ceremony on the one-year anniversary of the attacks.
"I got goose bumps," O'Brien said about seeing the completed memorial for the first time. "It is everything and more than I thought it was going to be. It is awesome."
"It started out with a little idea, and it just grew," said Spano, 22, of Howland.
Dr. Cyndy Anderson, YSU vice president for student affairs, said O'Brien and Spano are an inspiration.
"Students often serve as teachers, and we are so very proud of them," she said. "The world could learn many lessons about peace, love and honor from our students."
The memorial between Kilcawley Center and Tod Hall in the core of the campus consists of three circles: The larger circle represents the Pentagon and holds the flagpole; the two smaller circles represent the WTC towers.
The memorial also will include two kiosks displaying newspaper headlines of Sept. 11, an explanation of the memorial's history, a timeline of the attacks and a memorial for Terry Lynch, a YSU graduate who died in the Pentagon attack. Lynch's widow has established a scholarship at YSU in her husband's memory.
YSU also flies the U.S. flag at the Veterans Memorial outside Beeghly Center.
YSU's events marking the one-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks will begin at 8 a.m. with a prayer vigil in the Chestnut Room of Kilcawley Center.
The events then move outside to the memorial flagpole starting at 9:43 a.m., the time when American Airlines Flight 77 struck the Pentagon.
A flag donated to the university by alumnus Stacy Ebert will be raised on the new flagpole. Ebert is an FBI agent who worked at the landfill on Staten Island, N.Y., where debris from the World Trade Center towers was hauled. The flag was raised over the landfill Sept. 12 and flew there until this summer.
O'Brien and Spano will speak at the ceremony, as well as student trustee Jeffrey Parks, Anderson and YSU President David Sweet.
At 2 p.m., the names of the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks will be read.