On the last weekend before 9/​11, Ryan Pun­zalan and his uncle Hector sang a spir­ited duet of “Build Me Up Buttercup.”

My uncle loved music, and he was big on karaoke,” said Pun­zalan, then a fifth-​​grader and now a junior studying jour­nalism at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity. “He kept telling me that we were going to sing in the future.”

But the boy from Queens, New York, and his uncle, who moved to the United States from the Philip­pines in his mid-​​20s, never shared another song.

On the blue-​​skied morning of Sep­tember 11, 2001, uncle Hector, a civil engi­neer, had been sum­moned to the South Tower of the World Trade Center for a last-​​minute meeting. At 9:03 a.m., five hijackers crashed United Air­lines Flight 175 into the building, killing Hector and more than 1,000 other victims.

Pun­zalan was among approx­i­mately 50 mem­bers of the North­eastern com­mu­nity who gath­ered in the Sacred Space on Tuesday after­noon to observe the 11th anniver­sary of 9/​11 and honor those who lost their lives in the ter­rorist attacks.

I’m here to remember my uncle,” Pun­zalan said solemly.

The ser­vice fea­tured a reading of the names of the 12 North­eastern stu­dents and alumni who died in the attacks, including stu­dents Donald DiT­ullio, of Uni­ver­sity Col­lege (now the Col­lege of Pro­fes­sional Studies) and Can­dace Lee Williams of the Col­lege of Busi­ness Admin­is­tra­tion (now the D’Amore-McKim School of Busi­ness); and alumni Anna S. (Williams) Allison, MBA’81, David W. Bernard, BA’68, Jef­frey W. Coombs, UC’92, Peter A. Gay, E’69, Andrew Curry Green, MBA’98, Peter B. Hanson, AS’91, John C. Hen­wood, BA’89, Her­bert W. Homer, LA’76, Mark S. Jardim, BA’85 and Natalie Janis Lasden, UC’84, MBA’97.

The North­eastern com­mu­nity gathers in Sacred Space in Ell Hall for a 9/​11 remem­brance cer­e­mony. Photo by Brooks Canaday.

Alexander Lev­ering Kern, the exec­u­tive director of Northeastern’s Center for Spir­i­tu­ality, Dia­logue and Ser­vice, wel­comed mem­bers of the North­eastern com­mu­nity to the Sacred Space on the anniver­sary of the country’s most tragic day.

Standing behind a podium on which a burning candle flick­ered, Kern summed up the pur­pose of the solemn cer­e­mony: “We remember all the pre­cious lives lost on Sept. 11, each one shining like a star in God’s great galaxy,” he said. “We remember our own lives, before and after, the people we were, and the people we have become: somehow wiser, more tender, compassionate.”

North­eastern Pres­i­dent Joseph E. Aoun char­ac­ter­ized the Sept. 11 ter­rorist attacks as a crime against humanity.

9/​11,” he explained, “was not only an attack against the United States.” Rather, he said, “People were attacked regard­less of their nation­ality, reli­gion or beliefs.”

Aoun under­scored the point, recalling that news­pa­pers all over the world had expressed their sup­port in the after­math of the attacks through head­lines like one that read “We are all Amer­i­cans now.”

Aoun also urged stu­dents, fac­ulty and staff in atten­dance to remember those who lost their lives in 9/​11. “If we don’t remember, then we have no his­tory,” he explained. “And if we don’t have his­tory, then we don’t have an identity.”

Prior to the closing of the 30-​​minute cer­e­mony, Kern led the singing of a song called “Peace, Salaam, Shalom.”

Each of us,” he said, “is a member of the global family.”