Montclair State University’s Pi Kappa Alpha Walks 17 Miles To Ground Zero To Honor 9/11 Victims, Survivors, And Soldiers

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My father worked on the 97th floor in the south tower of the World Trade Center when I was born. As a little girl, I absolutely loved visiting him at work. We would take the subway in, he’d let me watch a static-y black and white version of Sesame Street on his portable TV, and then we’d ride the elevator all the way to the top. I was so small that I couldn’t withstand the pressure as the elevator accelerated upward, and it knocked me to the floor each time, but I didn’t care. It was like a rollercoaster, and I got to spend the day with my Daddy. From his office, I’d stare down into the streets, squealing that “They look like TOY cars!” and that “The people are almost too tiny to see!”

In 1999, much to my disappointment, my dad took a new job in a new building. Two years later, I would thank God every day that he did. My mother took me out of school early on September 11, 2001. It took over an hour for me to get in touch with my father that day because the cell phone towers were busy, and I was never more terrified in my life. Everyone who is old enough has a memory of that horrible, horrible moment in time. It took a toll in this country. Americans watched their countrymen, people who were “almost too tiny to see,” jumping to their deaths from a burning building at the hands of terrorism. New Yorkers watched their families. My father watched his friends.

Most of the stories people tell involve their eyes being glued to their televisions. People from New York, its suburbs, and the greater DC area, however, all have stories that are a little more personal. Stories about mothers who ran late to work that day and were lucky enough not to get to the city, stories about women crying because they couldn’t reach their husbands, stories about students watching the planes crash into the buildings from their science class windows, stories about children who lost their fathers — these are the stories people in those areas told.

The subways weren’t running after the planes crashed. Traffic was bumper-to-bumper. People were frantic. There was no way for commuters to get home. So they walked. Through soot, and dirt, and smoke, and tears, they walked from New York City to their suburban homes. My college roommate drove with her mother to the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge to see thousands of pedestrians, covered in filth, in their mass exodus from the city, and they waited and waited until her father emerged from the masses.

Pi Kappa Alpha, of Montclair State University in New Jersey remembers stories like those. Per external vice president Matt Barbieri:

As Montclair students and residents of the tri-state area we are more directly affected by 9/11. Many of us remember seeing the smoke, the chaos, and I guarantee everyone here remembers where they were that day.

To remember those people and their families, Pike has organized a seventeen mile walk from Fort Lee, New Jersey to Ground Zero. Dubbed “Pike Hike,” the event was first instituted three years ago by now-alumnus Lou Dermilio and his father. After the first year turned out to be a success, the chapter decided to make it an annual event, honoring the survivors, the people we lost, and the soldiers who defended us all on that tragic, tragic day.

Last year, the chapter raised $7,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project, an organization whose mission is “to foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation’s history.” Money goes to servicemen and families of servicemen who incur physical injuries and psychological illnesses as a result of the war. This year, Pike hopes to raise $20,000 for their cause, more money than they ever have before.

This year our current executive board set our goals higher than ever to try and make this not only the biggest event from Lambda Gamma Pike, but ALL Greek organizations at Montclair State University.

Montclair students, members of “sororities, fraternities, the Student Government Assocition, and Student Veterans Association” as well as Pi Kappa Alphas from neighboring schools like Rutgers, Ramapo, Rowan, NYU, Columbia, and Hofstra, will meet at 8:30 AM this Saturday, at Ft. Lee Historical Park, at the end of the George Washington Bridge in New Jersey to walk all the way to the Ground Zero Memorial. Barbieri stressed that it was important to pick a starting location that would allow participants to walk over the bridge, as so many people had to make that walk that day, and the location in itself, symbolizes “the unity that the tri-state area shares,” as the New York-New Jersey state border is in the middle of it.

This is beautiful, boys. A video from last year’s Pike Hike is featured below.

If you’d like to pledge a donation, or participate, you can do so HERE.

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Veronica (@VeronicaRuckh) is the Director of TSM for Grandex, Inc. After having spent her undergraduate years drinking $4 double LITs on a patio and drunk texting away potential suitors, she managed to graduate with an impressive GPA and an unimpressive engagement ring -- so unimpressive, in fact, some might say it's not there at all. Veronica has since been fulfilling her duties as "America's big," a title she gave to herself with the help of her giant ego. She has recently switched from vodka to wine on weekdays. Email her at veronica@grandex.co

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