Chapel Hill, N.C. — Like crowds in New York, Washington and rural Pennsylvania who marked the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, people gathered Tuesday morning in Chapel Hill to remember 9/11 victims.
Six University of North Carolina graduates died in the attacks, and the 2005 graduating class dedicated a memorial garden on campus to the victims. The garden, which features twin stone walls and a plaque with the names of the victims, is located across from Carmichael Residence Hall on Stadium Drive.
"It was a very, very powerful day," said Jovian Irvin, who had just started her freshman year at UNC in 2001 and later became president of the Class of 2005. "It definitely felt a little less exciting. It felt darker. The atmosphere wasn't the same."
Mary Lou Hague, a 1996 graduate, worked in the World Trade Center when the two towers were struck by hijacked jets.
Hague's mother, Liza Adams, said she said she talked to her daughter that morning and was assured Hague was leaving the tower. Adams said she still doesn't know exactly why her daughter didn't escape.
"She couldn't see what was happening in the other building. She just knew that there were flames and papers flying everywhere," Adams said. "You always wonder, what if, what might have happened. What might her life have been like?"
Irvin now works near Ground Zero in New York, leading a life similar to the one Hague led.
"It made this kind of national tragedy very, very real," she said.
The memorial garden ensures the six UNC alumni – Hague, 1992 graduate Karleton Douglas Beye Fyfe, 1983 graduate Andrew Marshall King, 1998 graduate Ryan Ashley Kohart, 1978 graduate Dora Menchaca and 1979 graduate Christopher Quackenbush – will remain just as real to visitors.
Adams said the garden gives her some comfort in her loss.
"A mother's pain never ends," she said. "(But) I know that she'll be remembered."