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University to Commemorate 9/11 Through Memory and Hope

Campus events will mark the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks

A rose at the 9/11 Memorial in New York City. Photo by Ben Lei via Unsplash.
A rose at the 9/11 Memorial in New York City. Photo by Ben Lei via Unsplash.

Duke University Chapel will lead the campus community in commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks through a series of events and actions that aim to remember the victims of the attacks, explore their ongoing effects, and seek hope.

The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, killed nearly 3,000 people. It brought grief to many families who lost loved ones and prompted admiration for first-responders who risked, and in some cases lost, their lives when attempting to rescue victims.

The attacks—which happened before many of today’s undergraduate students were born—led to wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and increasing security measures to guard against the threat of further attacks. Ripple effects of this one day have been felt in families and communities across our nation for the last 20 years.

The 9/11 memorial on the Duke campus. A plaque on Keohane Quad memorials the six Duke alumni who died during the attacks: Michael Morgan Taylor '81, Frederick C. Rimmele III, M.D. '94, A. Todd Rancke '81, Christopher Todd Pitman '93, Peter Ortale '87, and J. Robinson "Rob" Lenoir '84.

“As we approach Sept. 11 this year, I invite the Duke community to take some time to remember and also to hope,” said Chapel Dean Luke A. Powery. “We will remember first and foremost the people who died in these terrible attacks 20 years ago. We will also seek to remember and understand how 9/11 has shaped, and continues to impact, our country and world.

“Memory can be difficult and painful, but it is also the space out of which hope rises because when we remember the past and learn from it, we can also remember the future that we long for,” Powery said. “How can connect how we honor those gone with how we live today? What can we learn from looking back that helps us become more fully human and humanizing toward each other as we move forward?”


Events on Saturday, Sept. 11

Duke Chapel and campus partners will commemorate the attacks in the ways listed below on Saturday, Sept. 11. All events are free and open to the public.

Please note: Face masks are required on the Duke campus in all indoor and outdoor locations. See the university’s public health measures.


Tolling of the Chapel Bells

The chapel carillon will ring in memory of the Sept. 11 victims at the times of the attacks:

  • 8:46 a.m. when the first of two hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center (North Tower)
  • 9:03 a.m. when the second plane crashed into World Trade Center (South Tower)
  • 9:37 a.m. when hijackers crashed a plane into the Pentagon
  • 10:03 a.m. when hijackers crashed a plane into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania


‘Remember and Hope’ Interfaith Vigil

Beginning at 10:04 a.m., faith leaders from across campus will lead a vigil on the steps of the chapel, which will include times of prayer, reading, and silent reflection. President Vincent E. Price will give welcoming remarks. People of any faith or no faith are welcome to join in this time of remembrance and hope.


‘Call and Response’ Photography Exhibition

Beginning at 10:04 a.m. and throughout the day, the chapel will be open to visitors to view an exhibition of photographs of past campus vigils and protests. The exhibition, “Call and Response: Remembering Prayer, Protest, and Acts of Justice,” includes “remember” buttons for visitors to take as a symbol for remembering the love and hope that have united us in times of personal and national loss and struggle. 


‘Grant Us Peace’ Concert

At 7:30 p.m. in the chapel, Duke Chapel musicians and the Ciompi Quartet will perform compositions with themes of remembrance, peace and reconciliation by composers such as Joan Tower, Felix Mendelssohn, Shireen Abu-Khader, Ned Rorem, Ola Gjeilo and George Walker. The musical performances will be interwoven with poetic commentary. The concert, co-sponsored by Duke Arts, will be livestreamed on the Duke Chapel website.


Other campus and online events related to the Sept. 11 anniversary include:

Thursday, Sept. 9, at 5 p.m., in Sanford 04 and online: What Did Bin Laden Do to America?
The Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security will host Wajahat Ali, an influential writer and one of the leading Muslim American public intellectuals to discuss the impacts of 9/11 on the United States and the world. Please note: This is a special event for Duke students, faculty and staff only. For those unable to attend, webinar registration can be found on the center's website. Learn more.


Thursday, Sept. 9, at 7 p.m. in Duke Chapel: Choral Vespers
This Choral Vespers worship service will have a theme of remembrance in connection to the September 11 anniversary.


Sunday, Sept. 12, at 9:45 a.m. on Zoom: 9/11 Twenty Years Later: What Has Changed?
This online Adult Forum, hosted by the Congregation at Duke Chapel, features Samia Serageldin, a writer, novelist, editor and public speaker. Born in Egypt and now living in Chapel Hill, Serageldin is the author of three novels, “The Cairo House,” “The Naqib’s Daughter,” and “Love is Like Water.” She has also contributed to anthologies on Islam and was the editor for the Duke Press edition of “In the Name of Osama bin Laden.” Email to receive a link to participate.


Wednesday, Sept. 15, at Noon on Zoom: 99 Clay Vessels: The Muslim Women Storytelling Project
In a event from the John Hope Franklin Center, multimedia artist and grassroots educator Alison Kysia shares a socially engaged art project she created called “99 Clay Vessels: The Muslim Women Storytelling Project.” After a prolonged experience of anti-Muslim bigotry, she created a series of 99 pinch pots that represent the 99 names of God in Islam, symbolizing the diversity of all encapsulated in the One. This multimedia art and storytelling project centers stories of Muslim women healing from experiences of bigotry during 9/11 era. Learn more and register.


Wednesday, Sept. 15, at 6 p.m. on Zoom: Twenty Years After 9/11: Lessons Learned Then and Now
The Program in American Grand Strategy hosts this online conversation looking back on 20 years since the Sept. 11 Attacks. Stephen Hadley, former national security adviser to President George W. Bush, will discuss the lessons learned over the period in a conversation with Peter Feaver, a professor of political science and public policy at Duke and director of the Program in American Grand Strategy. Learn more and register on Zoom


Friday, Sept. 17, at 2:30 p.m. in the Duke Arts Annex (for Duke students only): Ceramic Worship for 99 Clay Vessels
In this DukeCreate hands-on workshop, co-hosted by the Muslim Student Association and Center for Muslim Life, multimedia artist and grassroots educator Alison Kysia shares a socially engaged art project she created called 99 Clay Vessels: The Muslim Women Storytelling Project. Kysia describes how and why she created the 99 pots for her project, including discussion of the firing technique she used to capture the fire marks on the clay. Learn more.