Garden dedicated to alumni lost on Sept. 11

imageMore than 150 people—students, faculty, alumni and families—gathered beside Glimmerglass Lagoon on Sept. 11 to pay tribute to the 12 Oswego alumni lost in the terrorist attacks four years earlier. 

They were there to dedicate a memorial garden, the gift of the classes of 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005.

Visitors strolled through the garden, which was blooming with purple hydrangeas, autumn joy sedum and red winterberry holly, and ringed by weeping cedar. Some sat on the English garden style bench. One laid a lone rose atop the monument listing the names of alumni Scott Bart of the class of 1995; Michelle Bratton, 2000; Richard Caproni, 1989; Michael Cawley, 1991; Michael Collins, 1984; Wendy Morris Faulkner, 1974; Michael Hannan, 1989; Michael O’Brien, 1981; James Potorti, 1972; Leo Roberts, 1979; Melissa Renee Vincent, 1994; and James Woods, 1997. They all died in the World Trade Center collapse.

“We gather to dedicate, to consecrate and to hallow this place in their memory. Yet there is another way in which it has already been dedicated as their lives were knit to ours in sharing in this place and in its spirit,” the Rev. Jim Lang, former chaplain of the Hall Newman Center, said during the reflection.

SUNY Oswego’s Kevin Mahaney said, “This memorial garden, designed to spring into life each September, will be a living memorial to the alumni who were lost. It is a quiet place to reflect about the importance of friends, family and life, amidst a turbulent world.” Mahaney is vice president for development and alumni relations.

The four classes of students who were on campus Sept. 11, 2001, dedicated their senior gifts to creating the memorial. With donations from the classmates, friends and family members, they raised more than $8,000 to create the memorial garden.

Alice Massimi of the class of 2002, who was instrumental in reviving the tradition of the senior class gift and spearheaded the movement to dedicate the gift to the lost alumni, traveled from Savannah, Ga., to speak at the dedication.

Tim Barnhart of the class of 2002, who was Student Association president on Sept. 11, 2001, said that the memorial “represents the same hopes that our fallen family members had when they first came to Oswego. Hope for learning, hope for friendship and hope for growth.”

He added: “Let hope be SUNY Oswego’s true legacy of Sept. 11.”

The families of Michelle Bratton and Michael Hannan turned out in force for the dedication, with 19 members of the Hannan family and 12 family members and friends of Bratton making the journey to Oswego to remember their loved ones. Other families were attending memorials in the New York City area.

“It’s a wonderful tribute to all those lost,” said Andrea Hannan, Michael’s widow. “It’s special to be here.”

Mary Bratton, Michelle’s mother, said she knew her daughter was there by the purple flowers, Michelle’s favorite color. “This is like her second home,” she said. “We wouldn’t have missed today.”

Donations are still being accepted to enhance the memorial garden. For information on giving, call the Office of Development at 312-3003 or visit

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PHOTO CAPTION: Dedication showing—Family members of Michelle Bratton, a 2000 graduate of SUNY Oswego who was lost on Sept. 11, 2001, embrace at the dedication of a memorial garden to the 12 Oswego alumni who died in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Regina Trainor (left), Bratton’s aunt, hugs Nicole Trainor, a first cousin of Michelle Bratton.

(Posted: Sep 14, 2005)