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Twenty Years of Tribute: 9/11 Vigil to Honor Lives, Love

A previous year’s 9/11 Vigil. File Photo/Aja Neahring.

The Emerson community will be paying tribute to those lost on September 11, 2001, part of a 20-year tradition of remembrance. 

This year’s annual 9/11 vigil will be a hybrid event, held simultaneously at the Parkman Bandstand in Boston Common and over Zoom on Saturday, September 11, at 7:30 pm. Community members can join online via EmConnect.

Front page of Berkeley Beacon
The September 13, 2001 Berkeley Beacon.

Three Emersonians lost their lives in the 9/11 attack, including Sonia Mercedes Morales Puopolo, mother of Sonia Tita Puopolo ’96, MA ’97, and Communication Studies Professor Myra Aronson, who were both on board American Airlines Flight 11; as well as Communication Studies alumna, Jane Simpkin ’88, who was on United Airlines Flight 175.

Vaughn Coleman ‘22, a film student whose father and uncle lost their lives on the 104th floor of the World Trade Center, and Sonia Tita Puopolo, now a Communications Studies affiliated faculty member will be participating in the vigil. 

In the two decades since losing her mother, Puopolo has devoted her life to healing, wellness, and finding meaning in tragedy. Her book, Sonia’s Ring: 11 Ways to Heal Your Heart, deals with issues of love, devastating loss, perseverance, and hope. The book’s title refers to her mother’s wedding band, the one thing of Sonia’s her husband wished he had after she died, which was retrieved from the rubble of Ground Zero nearly a year after 9/11.

banner featuring U.S. flag graphics, book jacket, and Tita Puopolo behind a mic

Puopolo said the lessons she took from 9/11 are equally applicable to today’s calamities.

“We are living in unprecedented, tumultuous times with the global COVID-19 pandemic and the delta variant, social unrest, environmental catastrophes, the current situation in Afghanistan, and so on… Yet, with the right wellness and self-care tools, we can reset our lives and forge a new pathway forward,” Puopolo said.  

The event is being organized by Gregory Payne, chair of the Communications Studies department, and a number of students, including Emily King, Zarina Levitsky, and Clarisa Carillo.

Communication Studies Professor Myra Aronson.

Community members from across the globe are expected to join in from locations such as India, China, Turkey, Europe, New York, Miami, California, and more. 

Donna D’Cruz, an Indian-born musician, will lead her Dip Into Bliss Meditation Experience (a mindfulness meditation) on Saturday, along with composer, conductor, and multi-instrumentalist Shelbie Rassler. 

“Emerson’s 9/11 Vigil is a testament to our resilience to overcome the darkest crises through empathic communication. As Santayana wrote: Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” said Payne. 

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