Article by Drew Luther
Photo by Gabe Umland
This past weekend The Roanoke College community commemorated the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Students, faculty, and members of the Salem community came together for different events to remember this tragic event in our nation’s history.
On Sunday, Sigma Chi fraternity held an event remembering Stephen LaMantia, ’85, who worked in the North Tower and died during the attacks. Bells rang across the community at the times each of the attacks occurred on Sunday as well as on Monday during the memorial service held by Chaplain Chris Bowen.
The crowd for the memorial service included students, teachers, staff, and local EMS members. Bowen began by thanking the student veterans and emergency service members for their service.
The Director for Financial Aid, Thomas Blair, talked about LaMantia, mentioning his cheerful personality and loud voice. He said LaMantia always greeted people with a bear hug and brought a smile to their faces.
LaMantia was on the 105th floor of the North Tower when the attacks happened. , “If Stephen survived the first crash, then he would have been helping people around him,” said Blair. While on campus, LaMantia was the president of Sigma Chi, and Blair said the father of another Sigma Chi president was working with LaMantia that day.
On the day of the attack, Blair got a call telling him to find a TV so he could watch the footage, and he arrived in the library to see the second plane hit. He was able to confirm the safety of one of three alumni he knew of in that area, but was unable to get into contact with LaMantia and the other.
The memorial service involved prayers and several student veterans told their recollection of the day. Senior Damon Daniels was stationed overseas and said he woke up just in time to see the second plane hit.
Junior Gary Adams was stationed at a base close to the Pentagon and mentioned how his day started just like any other. He got up and ran in the morning and did his other duties and didn’t notice anything was going on until he heard sirens go by towards the Pentagon. He found out that a plane had crashed into the Pentagon in a terrorist attack and the whole base was put on alert. He said that day lasted 58 hours for him, because he didn’t sleep.
To conclude, Bowen talked about the importance of remembrance and vigilance to stop it from happening again.