A few weeks before the September 11, 2001, attacks, Robert Brower was in Albany demonstrating to a geographic coordinating body of the Governor’s Office for Technology how three-dimensional visualization software (much like today’s Google Earth) could be used for economic development.
As director of the Institute for the Application of Geospatial Technology at Cayuga Community College, he was excited to show how software could be “localized” by adding site and contact information to the 3-D, fly-over perspectives. For example, when a developer asked how far the closest thru-way exchange is, the software could enable the developer to fly-over the property and get the bird’s eye view of the surrounding areas, including highways, interstates, and nearby business and suppliers.
“We were pretty excited about the use of this software for economic development purposes,” Brower said. Little did he know that just a few weeks after giving that presentation, he would be called on to use the same technology to produce images of Ground Zero for emergency responders at the site.
Brower was one of the featured speakers at Country in Crisis: Cayuga Responds, the official opening of the 9/11 “New York Remembers” exhibition on August 31 at Cayuga Community College in Auburn. The College is one of 31 sites across the state selected by the Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Office to display the exhibition as part of the 10th anniversary recognition of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Dr. Daniel Larson, president of the College, welcomed visitors to the event, which was held in the Karpinski Rotunda alongside the exhibition. He introduced the panel of speakers, which included campus members, government officials, and community members.
“The College is such an important community resource,” said John Camardo, chairman of the College Board of Trustees. “It exists to serve the public, and what better service can we provide to community members who want to honor those who died on September 11, 2001, than to give them the space to come together, view these artifacts, and reflect on that day and the changes in our lives since.”
Daniel Young, the Central New York Regional Representative of Gov. Cuomo’s office, said that the exhibitions deliver an important message that those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001, will be remembered, and the exhibition also gives communities a chance to come together.
New York Assemblyman Gary Finch (123rd Assembly District) remembered three individuals who lost their lives that day, including Father Mychal Judge, the chaplain of the NY Fire Department. “I imagine that he was thinking that there was no better place to be than with his firefighters that day,” Finch said. He thanked those who serve the local community as police, firefighters, and emergency responders, and all those who died in the attacks.
Auburn Mayor Michael Quill, who was the fire chief in Auburn when the attacks occurred, recalled that it was a very emotional time for him. He said he was very moved on both of his visits to Ground Zero. He said he was grateful that people in the community who didn’t have the opportunity to travel to New York can view the artifacts from the site in the exhibition right here in Auburn.
“This will give them a chance to see and remember,” Quill said. “It was a time when we all pulled together for the common good.”
Professor of Criminal Justice and History John Lamphere shared his perspectives of 9/11 when he was an active-duty lieutenant with the Cayuga County Sheriff’s Department. He recalled how he coordinated the “pony express” for the IAGT images produced in Auburn to be shuttled by state police along the thru-way to New York City.
Nursing Professor Cheryl Foster said she has very vivid memories from the 12 days she spent volunteering in New York after the attacks. She worked at a burn unit and remembers that by October 31, 2001, all of the patients in her ward had died. Foster recalled planning a funeral with a woman who had nothing of her husband to bury and who held fast to the only thing she did have—a recording of his last phone call with a message of love for her as he was trapped in the burning tower, facing his death.
That experience combined with the strong sense of national community following the attacks led Foster to begin the Fields of Hopes and Dreams at Hoopes Park in Auburn. She will work with the community to place thousands of American flags during the city’s ceremonies to commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11 on September 9-11, 2011, at Auburn Junior High School.
The exhibition, consisting of artifacts from the collections of the State Museum and National September 11 Memorial & Museum, will be on display until the end of September, including Sunday, September 11.
The College will also host a community conversation around the theme "September 11th Day of Service and Remembrance.” The event is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Wednesday, September 7, 2011, in the Norman F. Bourke Memorial Library on the Auburn Campus. The discussion of “A Firefighter’s Story” by Jill McCracken will be facilitated by Teri Misiaszek, instructor of criminal justice, and Meg Osborne, coordinator of career services.