Ten years after the World Trade Center towers were destroyed in a terrorist attack, SUNY Plattsburgh marked the day with a somber ceremony where most speakers called for peace.
Max Marsh is a student from Long Island who lost a relative in the attacks.
His cousin, Vanessa O’Connor was working at the towers, in her mid-twenties and pregnant, when the planes hit. Though he was only in grade school, Marsh said the event has effected him greatly.
“It surprises me how I get choked up whenever I think about it,” he said.
Marsh estimates that he was in the fourth grade when the towers were attacked. The class had just recited the pledge of allegiance to begin the day, and one of the teachers kept returning to the class and calling out students.
He recalls the excitement and apprehension of being called next. When he was, he was sent home with his father to have lunch and watch TV. The real impact of the event didn't hit him that day, but its significance has grown.
O'Conner's mother, Donna Marsh, is a role model, said the student.
When protests against a planned mosque near ground zero were heated, the victim's mother stressed that acceptance and peace were far more important than ideological battles.
Marsh said he knows he's not the only one who feels the effects of the tragedy.
“It's not just me, everybody has their own story,” said Marsh.
Congressman Bill Owens read from the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, which opens, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love.”
Owens visited New York City two weeks after the attack. Ground zero was still smoldering when he arrived. The law firm he worked for lost five people in the towers.
The most telling moments of the event's effects came to him during his flights. On his way in and out of New York following the attacks, there were no more than three passengers on his planes.
It's important to pay our respects and understand the significance of the attacks nationally and globally, he said.
“It's changed all our lives,” said Owens.
Student Association president Prajwal Shah was a student in Darjeeling, India when the towers were attacked.
His first alert was at two in the morning, when the dorm ward burst into everyone's rooms exclaiming that there was a bomb blast in the U.S.
When he first saw the images on television with the other students, he thought it must have been an accident. When the footage continued and he saw the second plane ram into the tower, the reality sank in and the room fell silent.
“No matter where you were in the world, it affected you deeply,” said Shah. “This isn't only about American people; it's about the whole world.”
Cadet Nick Petramole lead the SUNY Plattsburgh ROTC color guard through maneuvers during the ceremony.
“It means everything to me” to be a part of the ceremony, said Petramole. “We love to be here.”