The University of Southern Maine marked the 20th anniversary of 9/11 with a modest flag folding ceremony and remarks by President Glenn Cummings.
Gathered at the 9/11 memorial tree — planted on the Portland Campus for the 10th anniversary — a group of students, faculty and staff remembered the solemn occasion that changed so much for America.
“Today, 20 years later, America is trying to sort out the day’s meaning, trying to figure out what it means to be safe, to be strong and to be appropriate,” President Cummings said. He talked about the loss of Stephen Ward, a young man he had taught at Gorham High School.
Ward, who was 33, had just begun working in the World Trade Center.
“We know the power of America is to be firm but never cruel,” Cummings said. “And when you drive planes into a trade center, into people like Stephen Ward, you’ve crossed the line from being firm to being cruel.”
His remarks followed the brief flag folding, performed by USM students: Tyler Silva, a junior who served in the U.S .Army infantry, and Nate Twombley, a senior who served in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Along with first responders and many others, President Cummings thanked those who served in the military for their post-9/11 sacrifices.
For each of the past seven years, no college or university in Maine has welcomed more veterans or administered more GI Bill benefits.
“9/11 reminds us of what happens when hate is taken to an extreme,” Cummings said. “Today we get a chance to be careful with each other. Remember to take care of each other. If there is hope in these kinds of things, it’s in the remembering that we are in it together. We have each other. Some days it’s all we have.”
Students Tyler Silva, a US Army veteran, and Nate Twombley, a US Marine Corps veteran, ceremonially fold an American flag during USM’s 9/11 observance.