Correction appended: Sept. 13, 2012.
Local muralist Michael Pilato has focused his feelings about the terrorist attacks of 9/11 into his mural on Heister Street, adding to it little by little after the tragic event that happened 11 years ago.
And he continues to do it again this year, as he takes on painting for 48 hours straight to commemorate the attacks of Sept. 11 — all the while working to spread awareness about child sexual abuse, as well.
Michael Pilato will be painting between Monday and today, adding to his mural “Inspiration” on Heister Street. On Monday afternoon, he dissected the painting and explained who each person in the mural was.
“The 10 angels that you see up here were from my first 48-hour vigil,” he said. “They’re the ten alumni who died from Penn State. They were all in the twin towers.”
TJ Bard, former University Park Undergraduate Association president, said this year’s vigil held a new meaning for the Penn State community.
“I think now, this year more than ever, it stands for awareness and really getting involved and trying to make a difference in the community,” Bard (senior-economics) said.
John Corr, a member of the State College community, shared his experiences of volunteering at Ground Zero in New York City immediately following the attacks.
He said to see the emotions of people who had lost loved ones was very difficult, but that groups of people also sat outside the site to shout encouragement to the volunteers.
“Ground Zero was a place of contrast,” he said. “It was a horror show, but it was a place of great hope. It was great chaos, but there was also great cooperation that got better everyday. It was a place of despair and desperation, but it was also a place of determination.”
Corr said the experience for New Yorkers changed them for the better as they showed the love they had for one another and related to one another in their time of tragedy.
“Humanity shines through,” he said, referring to how some good can come from a bad situation.
Kate Branford, co-director of Happy Valley Cares, said there is also a window of opportunity to promote awareness of child sexual abuse prevention.
“People want to hear about it right now, so we need to take that window and work with it because everybody is listening and watching, not just Happy Valley or Penn State, but the nation,” Branford said.
Pilato said he added the blue ribbon to the mountain lion in honor of child sexual abuse awareness. The mountain lion represents strength, courage, dignity and leadership by the Native American faith. It is “what it exactly took for the young men to speak out against their oppressor,” Pilato said.
Pilato said he plans on proposing the creation of an amphitheater to paint another mural of people who are survivors of sexual abuse and the activism that they did to move forward in their lives.
“One of the things that came out of this tragedy that really upsets me, and I’m sure it upsets a lot of you, is that about 80 percent of the national news and 60 percent of the international news said that Jerry Sandusky destroyed these kids’ lives forever,” he said. “That’s so far from the truth.”
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An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the title of a mural by Michael Pilato. The mural referenced in the article is called “Inspiration.” The Daily Collegian apologizes for this error.