9/11

What I Saw: Red Square

Mourners on Red Square. Photo by Jon Marmor.

Mourners on Red Square. Photo by Jon Marmor.

At first, there couldn't have been more than a hundred people there. We had all gathered in "Red Square" to take part in the national mourning ceremony at lunchtime on Sept. 14. Then, silently, a group of about 10 students—some wearing red, white and blue clothing or ribbons—walked out to the middle of the square. Without saying a word, they grasped hands and formed a human circle. After a few moments, other people began to join them. First it was a few, then 10, then dozens, then hundreds. Soon, the long, human chain had enveloped all of Red Square, friends and total strangers alike holding hands and standing silently to remember those who died. The silence was profound, given the number of people. For much of the 45 minutes, the only sound was the cawing of a lone sea gull swooping in overhead. But just before the bells rang at 12:30 p.m., in honor of the victims, a woman started singing "Amazing Grace," evoking tears throughout the gathering. When the song ended, no one moved a muscle except to wipe away a tear, until another man in the crowd broke into "America the Beautiful." This time, many others, still holding hands, joined in. When that song ended, there was another round of heavy-hearted silence—until the roar of a commercial jetliner overwhelmed the quiet. In eerie unison, heads everywhere snapped upward, nervously looking at the sky as the plane passed out of sight. Then it was quiet again. But there was no peace.—Jon Marmor, '94, is associate editor of Columns.


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