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Newark, DE 19716
United States

Ten poignant words written on a yellow ribbon tied in the UD Ribbon Garden, swaying in a gentle breeze near Memorial Hall, say it all:

"Dad, I'm glad you didn't go to work on Tuesday."

Nearby, another ribbon pays tribute to a young serviceman with the words--"Matthew Flocco, U.S. Marine, age 21, died 9-11-01 in the line of duty."

Another is dedicated to the memory of "NYFD 29th Street Ladder Company. No survivors."

The ribbons are a telling memorial created largely by young people facing one of the largest national tragedies in America's history. Their messages give a touching glimpse of the far-reaching and personal impact of terrorism.

Response to the garden was greater than anyone imagined it would be, Marilyn Prime, student centers, who coordinated the project, said.

"I was overwhelmed by the response. And, beyond the sheer numbers, I was especially moved by the heartfelt desire of students to participate. Many would write their messages quickly, knowing just what to say. Others would carry their ribbons to the steps of Memorial, sit there and think, returning after as long as 30 minutes," Prime said.

"Some asked what they should write. Some would draw, some wrote poems, some wrote the words to songs and prayers, some wrote to families and to the lost. Ribbon messages became very personal, often with four or five lines filling a 3-foot length of material.

"Students came out of Memorial to gather handfuls of ribbon to take back inside for classmates to express their feelings. There were many tears."

Prime said the campus committee convened to organize the Sept. 19 campus community forum also conceived the idea of a ribbon garden.

"The original idea was to give students a way to express themselves in light of the terrorist tragedies. Students were coming into our office and wanting to do something. Many student leaders were in tears.

"Consequently, the forum planning committee discussed what might be appropriate and as an example, Ralph Begleiter, who moderated the forum, mentioned the flowers people placed in honor of Princess Diana when she died.

"We wanted something that was manageable and realized that the money put into flowers could be better directed to Red Cross donations. We thought about a wall for letters or notes but that, too, didn't lend itself to quite what we wanted. Somehow, yellow ribbons and their use in the Gulf War came up in discussion, and the project flowed from there."

The only difficult part of the project was finding enough ribbon, Prime said. "Many staff members helped locate ribbon and many picked up rolls and brought them to Trabant. We even had ribbon rolls come in from Philadelphia!

"Then came the hours of cutting. Again, many staff volunteered their time to see that ribbons were available for everyone.

"The garden generated a tremendous outpouring of love and commitment from everyone. It brought many lives together in many different ways," Prime said. In addition, it raised nearly $2,000 for the American Red Cross.

Many student groups, with members all eager to help, staffed the tables where ribbons were available. The groups, listed here in alphabetical order, included Alpha Epsilon Phi sorority, Alphi Phi sorority, Alphi Xi Delta sorority, the Anthropology Club, Chi Omega sorority, Delaware Undergraduate Student Congress, E-52 Student Theatre, Gamma Sigma Sigma service sorority, Harrington Theatre Arts Company, Hillel, HOLA, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, Mortar Board, Pershing Rifles, Phi Sigma Pi honor fraternity, Resident Student Association, Sigma Alpha sorority, Sigma Chi fraternity, Sigma Kappa sorority, South Central Complex, Student Center Program Advisory Board, Student Television Network, Students Acting for Gender Equality, Theta Chi fraternity, UD Emergency Care Unit and Zeta Beta Tau fraternity.

In addition, numerous students volunteered their time to sit outside Memorial Hall and distribute ribbons, Prime said, as did staff from Hullihen Hall, the student centers and residence life.