COLLEGE PARK – Andrew Marino said he now understands what his grandfather was talking about when he told his stories of signing up to fight for the Marines in World War II.
The senior government and politics major was one of the many students at the University of Maryland, College Park, who was shocked and angered Tuesday by attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Like many Maryland students, Marino is from suburban New York City and is concerned for those he knew who could have been near the World Trade Center.
“We have a lot of friends that work at the trade center,” he said. “I’m sure in the next week I’m going to hear of a lot of people from my town who were killed in this.”
Maryland students said they had felt safe from a terrorist attack of this magnitude — until Tuesday.
“It didn’t feel real,” said Marino, a recent United Airlines employee who watched the World Trade Center towers collapse this morning on television. “I thought I was watching a movie.”
Some campus students expressed concern that the campus stayed open Tuesday, while all other University System of Maryland institutions canceled classes.
University officials said Tuesday that it did not appear that the College Park campus was in imminent danger. But many professors opted to cancel their classes and University President C.D. Mote Jr. announced early Tuesday evening that classes would be canceled Wednesday for “a day of mourning and reflection for the campus.”
That came a day too late for some students.
“I do believe school should have been closed,” said senior art major Michael Roschuni. “I think we may be far enough away that we are out of harm’s way, as President Mote said, but we are all emotionally affected by this horrible tragedy. I think not enough work could have been accomplished with this on everyone’s minds.”
Sarah Hale, a sophomore economics and government and politics major, helped organize prayer vigils with the Maryland Christian Fellowship and the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship at the campus for the victims of the attacks and their families.
“People are scared and understandably confused by what happened,” she said. “We (the vigil organizers) ultimately think that God is in control even in the midst of the attacks.”
The Hillel Center for Jewish Life at the university also held a prayer vigil Tuesday evening, and the university’s Memorial Chapel remained open until 11 p.m. Tuesday.
Sarit Weisburd, a sophomore letters and sciences major from Israel, went to her classes Tuesday afternoon even though many other students chose not to.
She said people often ask her how she could live in a place as torn with violence and terrorism as Israel, but in light of Tuesday’s attacks, she said Americans must realize “extreme acts of terrorist that are happening there could happen anywhere.”
But for Marino, it was still hard to believe it had happened here.
“I’m pretty angry,” he said. “It’s kind of this feeling of disbelief, and the fact that these two buildings have disappeared is scary.”