I was asked to document September 11, 2011 for the Bowdoin College community, and was honored to do so. I arrived early in the morning, and happily photographed the utter normalcy of a Sunday in September: crisp, beautiful and quiet. I didn’t know what to expect, but I felt grateful to be in such a peaceful place, where only the lowered flag hinted at the tragedy ten years earlier.
It didn’t take long for the first students to begin congregating to watch the televised ceremonies in New York City, and later, to see Bowdoin’s President sitting alone below that flag, collecting his thoughts before addressing the community.
Shortly before noon, students appeared from every corner of the quad, and quietly assembled as the chapel’s bells rang. Students stood in unified silence next to faculty, staff, alums and community members alike. I can’t remember ever seeing a group of people gather so effortlessly, so purposefully and without hesitation.
I can’t possibly know what each person was contemplating, but for me, the moment of silence was a bizarre sense of sadness and joy. Sorrow because of the destruction and loss of life; gratitude for the strength of our Bowdoin community at that very moment.
After a moment of silence, Barry Mills (Bowdoin’s President) made a few brief, but poignant and thoughtful remarks that were incredibly meaningful. His words resonated with many in the crowd, and my heart went out to those, whose memories of 9/11 obviously were still vivid.
It was an honor to document that ceremony for the Bowdoin community, and as the flowers left beside the campus memorials for alums killed on 9/11, it is clear that the memories of that day have not been forgotten, and the spirit of unity and hope is alive and well on campus.