Five Years Later

Raynor Denitzio

September 11, 2001. Hardly anyone who lives in the tri-state area was left unaffected by this day.

As a university that pulls many undergraduate students from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, the tragedy of 9/11 hit Villanova especially hard. Aside from the students, faculty and staff that lost friends, relatives and loved ones, Villanova University also lost 15 of its sons and daughters on that late summer day in 2001.

In the five years that have passed since 9/11, as the wounds of that terrible day begin to heal, questions have been raised as to the proper way to memorialize the victims.

Two recent movies, both simply titled, “World Trade Center” and “United 93” respectively, seem to set the tone; powerful, simple and aware that for many, September 11 is very personal and still very real.

The question for Villanova became how to properly memorialize the loss of life on 9/11. The design for the memorial happened quite accidentally.

Originally, this window started off as a personal representation of emotion for Rev. Richard Cannuli, O.S.A., director of the art gallery and head of the theater department. Cannuli, who teaches an icon making class at the University, began the design for an icon depicting 9/11 last year.

Although five years may seem like a long time for a project to be in development, Cannuli says he typically spends three years working on a project.

“I tried to express my reaction and my belief after 9/11,” said Cannuli. “It took a while for that to percolate.”

After seeing Cannuli’s work on the image, president Peter Donohue, O.S.A., asked if it would be possible to represent the icon as a stained glass window as a memorial for the University.

Originally meant as an icon, the design needed to be reworked in order to work as a stained glass window.

The design itself is fitting, the window features the Virgin Mary with arms raised in prayer.

“She represents all of us,” said Cannuli.

In addition, the window pictures the World Trade Center, Pentagon and the field in Shanksville, Pa., where United 93 crashed. Below these images are inscribed the names of the 15 Villanova victims.

Also in the windows, above the images of the Virgin Mary and the sites are the roman numerals for both the flight numbers of the hijacked planes and for 9/11.

Cannuli felt that using the roman numerals instead of the traditional numbers presented “softer” image.

After Cannuli finished his design it was shipped to Siena, Italy where the actual work of making it into a stained-glass window would take place, at the V.A.T. Company.

Once the window is received, it will be installed in Corr Chapel during a featuring the families of the victims from Villanova.

In addition to the stained-glass window, the University also held a lecture held on Sept. 11, plans for a memorial stained-glass window are also in the works.

The Monday event not only commemorated the five-year anniversary of the nation’s tragedy, but also stressed the importance of peace among nations.

Suzanne Toton, a theology and religious studies professor and Center for Peace amd Justice staff member, introduced the guest speaker, Robert Young.

“There is very little danger that our nation will forget 9/11,” Toton said. “What we, as a nation, are in danger of forgetting is our responsibility and role as a powerful nation to build peace.”

Young opened his talk entitled “Five Years After 9/11: Lessons from the Hezbollah-Israel War: What’s Next?” by explaining the significance of discussing the current conflict on Sept. 11.

“Our country and the world would be a lot safer today if making peace between the Israelis and Palestinians rather than making war on Iraq had been our main goal after 9/11,” he said.

Young first briefly acknowledged, what he called, “lessons” that separated different groups, such as the conflict of interest between the Lebanese and the Israelis. The majority of his talk focused on a series of “lessons” upon which he hoped everyone could agree concerning the peace-making process.

His first lesson included the denial of the Hezbollah-Israel War as a “war on terror.” In the following lessons, Young also refuted the idea of a lasting safety and stability within the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the possibility of a military solution to the problem.

Young asserted the importance of U.S. involvement in resolving the conflict. He also talked about the desire of most Arab, Israeli and Palestinian leaders to obtain a peaceful agreement and how the clarity of principles were needed to achieve that peace.

According to Young, a solution to the problem would create positive international effects, including the reduction of terrorism.

A graduate from Wesleyan University, Young has worked with M. L. King, Jr., served on a variety of peace committees and organization and published a book entitled “Missed Opportunities for Peace: U.S. Middle East Policy 1981-86.”

The Bartley lecture hall was standing room only, with over 100 people, mostly students, in attendance. After the formal talk, Young answered questions from the audience.

Toton had looking for a talented and knowledgeable speaker who could give a talk at the University that focused on peace-building and remembrance. After hearing about Young, she recommended him to the 9/11 Committee.

“For us not to address the Hezbollah-Israel War would be a serious oversight on our part,” Toton said after the lecture.