As I and my fellow Knight Writers left the caf yesterday, the dark skies opened up and a fierce, pelting rain fell across the rows of seats that were painstakingly set up for the Remembrance Plaza Dedication the next day. “Oh no,” we all said in unison. “Please don’t let this happen tomorrow,” we said to each other.
Well, it seems our prayers were answered because today the weather couldn’t have been more perfect: blue skies, a gentle breeze and mild temperatures for an event that will surely be one of those forever remembered in Lynn history: the unveiling of the Remembrance Plaza and the academic ceremony that accompanied the official dedication.
I’ve already co-written the story (with my fellow writer, Liz) for our website, so the details are there, but I thought I’d share some impressions of my own. And impressed I was … with everything. From the orchestration of the event to the melodic music choices of our own conservatory and the Dimensional Harmony choir to the moving words of all those that spoke (I was deeply moved by each of the mothers who spoke of their daughters with such pride, emotion and even humor) to the pageantry of our faculty in their regalia – and finally to the majestic plaza itself. It was all truly a fitting tribute.
It’s hard to believe it has been 2 years, 2 months and 4 days since our six family members were lost in the Haiti earthquake and as our fearless leader, President Ross, said in the “tragic and unforeseeable event; an event that still is and will always remain incomprehensible to us.” It was a very dark time in Lynn’s history.
But as President Ross went on to say, “Today the entire Lynn community begins its own Journey of Hope. We hope that in our moments of pain, which will never fully go away, we may find peace and comfort in this sacred place we dedicate today.”
I watched that sacred place built from day 1 to day 296 (which is how long it took) as I walked from the parking lot noting the progress each day. But nothing could prepare me for the up close and in person version of this gorgeous plaza. You have to see it to believe it, so check out the photos (though it still must be seen in person to be believed).
And finally, another special part of the day for me was a visit from an old friend and former Knight Writer, who managed this darkest hour at Lynn with such finesse. And so, I just couldn’t let the day go by without offering him the opportunity to give his impressions back home in the Knight Writer blog he founded (didn’t think we were going to put you back to work, did you?)
Take it away Jason …
It’s good to be back on the Knight Writer beat…
I left Lynn University and South Florida on a warm morning in late February of 2010. After nearly four years on this campus, my family and I made a move that we knew was going to be difficult in many respects. But we could have never known how hard it truly would be.
During my last two months here, we lost six members of this community. Among my memories of that time:
- The return of the seven students who had survived—almost literally plucked from the clutches of danger and delivered quietly late one night into the arms of their families in the Perper Room
- The strength, resolve and graceful dignity of the families and loved ones of the missing
- The courage and compassion of those students who lived—and who were determined not only to celebrate the work of their classmates and professors, but to remind an eager media contingent that the people of Haiti were equally deserving of their attention and our concern
- And the campus community that rallied, with such uniform optimism, around hope. Hope against hope. Hope against time. Hope for miracles.There was a time when I wondered what that hope had won us. Distance, and then, another close look, has shown me.
So, from my new outpost on the Wisconsin-Illinois border, I have followed along—watched the memorial service unfold via web feed; scrolled through the photos from the Knights Unite Day(s) of Caring on the university’s Facebook page; and opened my mail to find renderings of this gorgeous Remembrance Plaza in brilliant color. I even, more recently, read a story passed on to me by a new acquaintance—someone I sat briefly with at lunch more than a year ago and who stumbled upon a newspaper story about the generosity and efforts of the parents of Courtney, Stephanie, Britney, and Christine while in Boston for the holidays.
What I saw in these glimpses from afar was a campus that, as President Ross had insisted during those hopeful and painful days back in 2010, would “never forget” those that were lost. And not only that, but a campus that would never stop doing the work that those 12 had begun.
Today, this determination was reinforced in real and tangible way. As birds sang and darted above our heads, we all sat and contemplated the enormity of what was lost two years ago. But in the words of the mothers, one of whom reminded us all how this tragedy had amplified their efforts by engaging the families, their friends and community, and the Lynn campus in the work they began.
It was a moment well worth seeing in person. And it was a charge I’ll take back with me to Wisconsin.
It’s been so good to be here and to see so many friends and to feel almost as if no time has passed at all between us. Until we meet again… Knights unite!