What is the best way to remember the great sacrifices our first responders made during the morning of Sept. 11, 2001? For the Beta Theta Pi fraternity, it was to host a memorial event in the center of campus.
Located at the Pioneer Village section of the Sacred Heart University campus, students and faculty gathered in solidarity on the 21st anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks to honor all lives lost during one of our nation’s darkest days. Together, attendees of the memorial climbed flights of stairs as a gesture of appreciation for the firefighters that scaled 110 flights of the Twin Towers.
Hosted by one of Sacred Heart’s largest fraternities, the event drew a crowd of over 50 individuals looking to pay their respects.
2022 marked the first time in three years that this event was held on campus. Junior Victor DiPierro played an integral role in its revival.
“I joined Beta in the fall of 2020. Before the Covid pandemic, this event was held every year. Unfortunately, we couldn’t do it these past few years due to the pandemic, but this year I knew it was something I wanted to implement again.”
To get the word out, fraternity brothers produced online flyers, posted messages of awareness on social media and coordinated with school officials.
DiPierro noted the overwhelming success of the event and said, “Dr. Petillo and other faculty members joined at the beginning and took pictures. There were also random people I had never met before coming up to me in the hallways and thanking me for putting on this event.”
Members of the school community were encouraged to donate to the Tunnels to Towers nonprofit organization. Through nationwide donations, this organization helps to build homes and pay bills for families of first responders injured or killed. The organization was named after the heroics of firefighter Stephen Siller, who lost his life while running from the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel and into the collapsing World Trade Center.
In total, the school community raised nearly $1,000 for the foundation.
Sophomore and fraternity brother Julian Percoco said, “We want people to know that we care, even after all these years. Many people gave their lives trying to help others, so it is our responsibility to honor them and keep the event relevant.”
Percoco believed that all members of the school community could take something away from this event, adding, “A lot of us weren’t alive during this time. It’s important to keep first responders and affected families in our prayers.”
DiPierro echoed a similar statement. “We should remember to thank law enforcement and never forget the sacrifices made that day,” he said.
Founded in 1839 and brought to SHU in 2017, Beta Theta Pi strives to develop men of principle and promote the values of intellectual growth, trust and integrity, according to the university’s website. Their main philanthropy is the Thomas Matthew Miloscia Foundation, which aims to relieve financial burdens carried by cancer patients and their respective families.