Artist Michael Pilato will host his annual 48-hour vigil tomorrow in honor of Sept. 11, and this year, the event will include a lineup of guest speakers who hope to provide inspiration to the Penn State community.
The event is titled “"Painting for Change: Coming Together to Kickoff the 9/11 Vigil,"and it is hosted by the Council for Hope and Healing.
The annual event started the year after the 9/11 attacks as a way to honor those affected by the terrorism. Each year, Pilato works for 48 hours straight to add a new hero to the mural. This year, he will be painting the late Michael Murphy, Class of 1998, who was a Navy Seal.
Pilato said Murphy “went out in harm’s way to get a message across over the radio” and was shot while doing so. The message he sent helped his fellow troops successfully locate the enemy. Murphy received a Medal of Honor for his efforts.
Pilato will also be adding various religious symbols to his mural as well. A sampling of the religions he will include are Judaism, Hinduism, Taoism and a variety of tribal religions. The mural already contains a crucifix made from steel that was recovered from the Twin Towers.
Steven Garguilo, the chair for the Council for Hope and Healing, said the council has partnered with the borough and the 367 project in order to put on the event.
The 367 project is a student-run organization that was founded in memory of Tom Richards, a Penn State student who died while teaching a Leadership Jumpstart retreat two years ago, Garguilo said. The group focuses on leadership development.
Garguilo said the speakers at the event will include State College Mayor Elizabeth Goreham, Trustee Ryan McCombie, Artist Michael Pilato, Director of Happy Valley Cares Kate Branford , Amy Rumbel from the Centre County Women's Resource Center and John Corr, who worked at Ground Zero after 9/11
Goreham said residents and Penn State students are very close right now and are willing to come together and talk about the “tragedy” of recent events as well as the tragedy of 9/11.
“I really love how our community is not afraid of speaking out on issues to help us move forward,” Goreham said.
Goreham said she will talk about “Our Community Covenant,” which is essentially an honor code that states what the community values, what it tolerates, what it stands for, and what it’s committed to. According to www.OurCommunityDay.org, “Our Community Covenant” is “a step in the healing process of the last few month’s heartbreaking events.”
She added State College is filled with good people, who are looking to keep the borough a positive community.
“We’re all in this together,” Goreham said.
Corr, a local resident who worked at Ground Zero on 9/11, will draw parallels between how the New York City community responded to the 9/11 attacks and how our community has responded and can respond to the recent events, Garguilo said
Pilato called Corr an “all-around hero.”
When Pilato speaks, he said he plans to discuss many aspects of the mural at the event. He also plans to share some of his personal experiences, like his recent travels to Burma to discuss sexual abuse awareness.
“I’m going to talk about how what’s happening here pertains to what’s happening around the world,” Pilato said.
He will also discuss plans the council has for the future, as well as partnerships it has formed with Penn State.
Pilato said he hopes students and community members will “come out and be part of a day that we all should never forget.” He said the event is important in that it honors the fallen heroes of 9/11 as well as exceptional members of the Penn State community.
“It’ll be beautiful,” he said. “Come out and feel the love.”