All Posts By

Daniel

It Could Have Been Any of Us

By | Alumni News, National News, Philanthropy/Community Service | No Comments

Originally published in the fall 2018 edition of The Chi Phi Chakett, Brother Felt’s story was recently recognized by the Fraternity Communications Association (FCA) with the 2nd Place Award for News Feature. FCA member include 71 social and honorary Greek organizations and governing bodies, including the North American Interfraternity Conference (NIC).

Photos courtesy of the US Department of the Interior

Looking out across the landscape filled with lush grass, wildflowers, and trees, one would never suspect the tragedy that occurred there just seventeen years ago. The only visible reminder of that day sits at the edge of a grove of hemlocks, the trees themselves now recovered from the damage they sustained. Now that the scars on the land have healed, there is only a boulder left to mark the impact site of United Airlines Flight 93 – the Sacred Ground. Though the physical reminders of the crash are gone, the wounds of loss are still fresh in the hearts of the friends and families of the heroes of Flight 93. For seventeen years, Gordie Felt, Alpha-Chi 1985, has sought to help heal those wounds through the establishment of the Flight 93 National Memorial. He knows well the feelings of loss; his brother Ed was one of the forty crewmembers and passengers who lost their lives when Flight 93 crashed.

It Could Have Been Any of Us

“Ed and the 39 other passengers and crewmembers that were on Flight 93 were all in many ways very unique individuals from all over the world. But also, in many ways, they were just like the rest of us; they were parents, they were brothers, they were spouses. I think that part of the story of September 11, particularly Flight 93, is that it could have been any of us on that flight,” Brother Felt reflected.

It was the normalcy of the flight and of the people on it – college students, retirees, teachers, and Ed, who worked as a system engineer for a software company – which makes the heroic fight that the passengers made in their final moments all the more remarkable.

Among the many calls and recordings from Flight 93 on that day – including the Cockpit Voice Recorder which captured the final words of the passengers who breached the cockpit and attempted to retake the plane – is the final cell phone call from Flight 93, and the only one to reach a 911 operator, made by Ed. His last-minute call to ground personnel allowed the operator to contact emergency services in the next county over and inform them that a large, hijacked commercial flight had been taken down – a fact that had not yet even reached the military. Had anyone survived the crash, Ed’s final call to alert first responders to the scene would have been lifesaving.

Memory

Within hours of first responders arriving from all over Somerset County, local citizens were the first to establish a memorial for the forty heroes. And they have been there with the Families of Flight 93 ever since.

“It’s been unbelievable,” according to Brother Felt. “That whole community has really become an extension of our greater Families of Flight 93. They have opened their arms to us as family members and accepted this Memorial with a certain degree of pride; they were the first ones who were there.”

The Families of Flight 93 has worked hand-in-hand with the local community, National Park Service, the National Park Foundation, and the Friends of Flight 93 (a similar organization to their own) to create the Flight 93 National Memorial. This September, seventeen years since the day that changed the United States, the final piece of the Memorial was put in place.

Uncertainty

Though today the Flight 93 National Memorial is now complete, just a few short years ago it was nearly a vision unfulfilled. As the tenth anniversary of 9/11 approached, the government and civic organizations had hit a brick wall while fundraising for the Memorial. Unlike the other two sites that met with tragedy that day, Shanksville had neither the same federal funding as the Pentagon nor were corporations moving to back the Memorial like those which had lost employees at the World Trade Center. Simply put: They were out of money.

“We really were starting with nothing,” Brother Felt said while recalling the fundraising efforts they undertook. Though a small portion of the site was donated, the task of raising more than $40 million for portions of the Memorial itself fell on the Families of Flight 93, the National Park Foundation, and other organizations.

Creation

The Memorial is now an established site within a vast tract of parkland, but the area surrounding it is, in many ways, still as rural and difficult to access as it was in 2001. Approaching the site through the many winding roads of western Pennsylvania, visitors are welcomed by signs along the way directing them to the various historic covered bridges, the occasional tavern, and stone homes dating back to past centuries. Entering the gates of the Memorial requires that visitors still drive for several minutes before reaching the museum and visitors center, and the Sacred Ground itself still further.

The Tower of Voices was designed as imposing; the 93-foot tall structure is the first piece of the Memorial that visitors see when entering the site. Its stark, industrial appearance contrasts with the flowery, green environment that now surrounds it. Its height is no coincidence; architect Paul Murdoch built numbers into how the Tower memorializes the forty heroes of Flight 93. Forty chimes adorn the Tower, each measuring between five and ten feet long and weighing up to 150 pounds. Each chime creates its own unique sound as the wind passes through – each one with its own voice.

Dedication

As the final piece of the Flight 93 National Memorial, the Tower of Voices provided a sort of closure, not only for the project itself, but for families, friends, and the community. Despite the chilly weather and steady rainfall during the dedication on September 9, a devoted showing of onlookers was present for the ceremony.

Brother Felt sensed the effect that this final ceremony had while watching with other spectators; families and friends of those on Flight 93, local residents, first responders, and complete strangers who came to show their support.

Speaking on behalf of the Families of Flight 93 that day was Calvin Wilson, brother-in-law of First Officer LeRoy Homer Jr. In the midst of describing the partnerships and friendships formed, the land purchased, and the money raised, Mr. Wilson reflected, “and then there’s the families. The Families of Flight 93. That wasn’t just a title for us; we are truly a family. We bickered, we hugged, we yelled, we screamed, but we had one goal in mind; and that was to make sure that our loved ones were remembered not only by name, but for their actions.”

“There is one individual,” he continued as he fought back emotion, “who has been like the father figure, the referee, our representative, across the nation, in the families, and in the executive group. He has represented us strong for fifteen years. This man has led us not from the front, not from the back, but at our sides. We can’t tell him enough how much we appreciate it and how much we love him, but we tried.” Mr. Wilson invited Brother Felt to the stage, where he was presented with a plaque as a thank you from the families for his efforts as President of the Families of Flight 93 for fifteen years.

Brother Felt and others were then led to the base of the Tower. There, family members and dignitaries officially dedicated the final piece of the Memorial and opened the chimes. As an ever-silent audience looked on, the winds sweeping through the field hit the Tower, which began its song for the first time.

Future

With the Flight 93 National Memorial complete, Brother Felt’s work would seem finished; but this is far from true. As life moves forward and the Families of Flight 93 continues to work toward preserving the memories of the forty heroes, he intends to continue working at their sides to support the Memorial and the community which has formed around it. The memory of the selfless actions of Ed and the other thirty-nine heroes of Flight 93 will continue to inspire awe, humility, and reverence for generations to come.

“The thing I want you to take away today, is that I want you to understand that we need to continue with the spirit of the forty heroes. We can’t lay down, we must come together as a diversified, unbiased group, understand what the problem is, come up with the solution, and then act upon it.”

– Calvin Wilson

Left: Brother Felt accepts a plaque as a gift from the Families of Flight 93, represented by Calvin Wilson. At left is Tom Ridge, the former Governor of Pennsylvania and first Secretary of Homeland Security. Photo courtesy of the Tribune-Review.

Article by Dan Coutcher, Alpha-Chi 2016, and Liz Carter




  • Chapter Spotlight: Delta Xi at West Virginia Wesleyan College

    By | Chapter News, Philanthropy/Community Service | No Comments

    At West Virginia Wesleyan College on a crisp fall day in October, more than 21 collegiate Brothers and many dedicated Alumni of the Delta Xi Colony of Chi Phi gathered to receive our Charter. Delta Xi is now officially recognized as an active Chapter by the Chi Phi Fraternity. During this ceremony our Chapter was also significantly recognized with the presentation of the President’s Cup (right). This award distinguishes our Chapter from others on campus as exemplar in academics, service, intramurals, and social activity. It is a high honor to receive this award from West Virginia Wesleyan Greek Life and the College.

    The fall semester proved to be a busy season for our philanthropic activity with the Brothers’ participation in a variety of service around our campus. West Virginia Wesleyan College stresses giving back to the campus and community and Delta Xi is an active contributor. We started on the first day of the semester! We lined up curbside to help the freshman arriving on campus unload their cars as they moved into their new dorms.

    On Halloween, we participated by “trick or treating” for canned goods in the town of Buckhannon (below, right). These donations were used to boost one of the town’s local food pantries. Later in the fall on Community Unity Day we joined forces with Alpha Sigma Phi to do some clean-up work in local cemeteries and assisted some of the elderly population with fall landscaping (below, left). Working together to benefit others in the community always has a positive effect on us all.

    After a setting the academic all time high GPA record last year in the Greek system here at West Virginia Wesleyan, we are striving to begin again to recapture this status. This fall the Brothers of Delta Xi topped the all fraternity average GPA for fall semester with a 3.54. The men of the scarlet and blue endeavor to continue this trend.

    Together we have experienced academic success, opportunities for leadership, service, and social activities that are enriched because of our Brotherhood. With these things in mind we plan to carry on the rich tradition of the Delta Xi Chapter of Chi Phi that was established by all the brothers of Chi Phi since 1824.

    Fraternally,
    Jack Goellner, Delta Xi 2019
    Zeta of the Delta Xi Chapter




  • 105 from UC Davis Reunite

    By | Alumni News | No Comments

    On the second Saturday of October, the Brothers, friends, and significant others of the Sigma Delta Chapter from UC Davis met again, this time 105 strong from the graduation years of 1984 to 1990.

    The thought of a reunion started at a kids’ soccer game last year when Jeff Galdes, Sigma Delta 1987, and I came together. With the help of Eric Mariotti, Sigma Delta 1989; Simo Rodich, Sigma Delta 1986; and Mike Babot, Sigma Delta 1985, we found as many graduates as we could and started planning.

    The Mariotti family generously agreed to hold the event at their home in Martinez, California, and Brothers and friends came from six different states to celebrate old – but never forgotten – friendships.

    It was one of those days in life that do not come around often, yet leave an indelible impression on you. How sweet life is when you are surrounded by people you love. So many friends reconnected, some after not seeing each other since graduation. The time and distance between us melted instantly away in hugs and happy tears and gut-busting laughter of the times we spent together. We learned of many smaller groups of Chi Phi’s that became life-long “families” forged in the days before anyone was married or had kids to brag about and careers and lives as adults to share.

    Our humble message to all of you; don’t wait to do this at your Chapter. We are all still talking about it we can’t wait to do it again. October 2020 is right around the corner!

    Adam Cipriano, Sigma Delta 1988

    The Sigma Delta Chapter at the University of California, Davis is celebrating 50 years as a Chapter, founded May 31, 1969. The Valley Alumni Association and Sigma Delta Chapter are hosting an Alumni Banquet on June 1, 2019. For full details and to RSVP May 10, click the button below. We hope you can make it!
    – Jeremy Donati, Sigma Delta 2002
    Valley Alumni Association President
    Learn More about Sigma Delta's 50th



  • Join us at the 9th Annual Watts Gunn Memorial Golf Tournament

    By | National News | No Comments

    It’s okay to jump the Gunn and reserve your spot!

    Now in its 9th year, the Tournament honors Watts Gunn, Omega 1928, known as “The Southern Hurricane,” who made golf history at the 1925 U.S. Amateur by setting the record for international championship golf by winning 15 straight holes. Brother Gunn faced off with his friend and rival, the famed Bobby Jones, and later teamed up with Jones during their successful 1926 and 1928 Walker Cup tournament appearances.

    Brother Gunn has been recognized in the Georgia Tech Athletic Hall of Fame, Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, Georgia Golf Hall of Fame, and Southern Golf Association Hall of Fame.

    Join Brothers from across the country on Thursday, June 20 (right before Congress!) at The Fort Golf Course in Indianapolis. Since 1998, The Fort has been considered one of the finest public golf courses in the state after its redesign by Pete Dye and Tim Liddy. 1,700 acres of the 2,500 acre property is now a Fort Harrison State Park, making it a pristine site for Chi Phi’s only official golf outing.

    Proceeds from the Tournament benefit the Educational Trust’s efforts to provide scholarships and leadership development programs to our Brothers.

    Player spots are available on a first come, first served basis. Undergraduate Brothers, Alumni, Friends of Chi Phi, and our sponsors are encouraged to register early to ensure availability. Email EducationalTrust@chiphi.org today!




  • What truly makes us Chi Phi? Announcing 2019 RRR!

    By | National News | No Comments

    “I feel more connected to Chi Phi than I ever have been. I am convinced that I am/will be a better man.”
    – 2017 RRR Participant

    Learn More
    Register Now

    RRR is focused on our Ritual, Heritage, and the secret meaning of our Brotherhood. This is a unique opportunity to learn about what truly makes us Chi Phi and what has bound us together for nearly 200 years. RRR is provided at no cost and is open to all Brothers.

    We are thrilled to be hosting three RRRs this year across the country:

    University of California, Berkeley – Berkeley, CA
    June 7-9, 2019 – Register by May 31

    Oglethorpe University – Atlanta, GA
    June 14-16, 2019 – Register by June 7

    Lehigh University – Bethlehem, PA
    July 12-14, 2019 – Register by July 5

    Registration is now open on Chi Phi Connect. Learn more about the program: chiphi.org/rrr




  • Chapter Spotlight: Phi Lambda Theta at Bucknell University

    By | Chapter News | No Comments

    Here in Lewisburg the Brothers of the Phi Lambda Theta Chapter at Bucknell University have kept busy in the classroom and on campus.

    Our campus involvement is something that we have always taken great pride in. We have Brothers holding positions such as school president, orientation leaders for incoming first-years, admissions ambassadors, TEDx speaker coaches, volunteer firefighters, and residential advisors. Our Brothers are able to do all of this while still maintaining a strong academic performance.

    We have spent the last couple of months preparing for our annual Special Olympics philanthropy event. This has always been a fantastic event and we are hoping to build upon the success we had with it last year. Our Chapter has always placed a high importance on giving back, and this is evident based on the fact we had a total of 1,922 community service hours last semester and donated over $2,500 dollars to various charities and organizations.

    We have always maintained had a strong presence on the intramural field. Specifically, we have always had a strong soccer team which led to a second place finish in the general intramural season, and we walked away with a victory at the Kappa Klassic (a philanthropy event held by a sorority at Bucknell). We currently have teams competing in the intramural basketball league playoffs and are hoping we can add some more hardware to our collection. Intramural games are always some of everybody’s favorite events to attend and are a great way to show support to our Brothers.

    This academic year has been a great success for our Chapter so far. Our New Members have integrated themselves very well and are true embodiments of the core values Chi Phi sets forth, as well as our own Phi Lambda Theta values. Personally I look forward to watching our Chapter continue to thrive and flourish at Bucknell.

    Fraternally,
    Aidan Shea, Phi Lambda Theta 2021
    Zeta of the Phi Lambda Theta Chapter

    Above: Phi Lambda Theta Brothers celebrating their victory at the Kappa Klassic.

    Below: Brothers having a blast during the Chapter’s ski trip.




  • Statement on the Phi Delta Chapter and Ace Miller Boxing Tournament

    By | Media Statements | No Comments

    Recently, an announcement was made by our Phi Delta Chapter at University of Tennessee-Knoxville that members participated in the Ace Miller Boxing Tournament in the name of Tanner Wray, Phi Delta 2019, who tragically passed away during the tournament in 2018.

    The Chi Phi Fraternity does not endorse the Chapter’s participation in the Tournament.

    We offer our sincerest apologies to the Wray family for any distress caused by our members’ announcement. Chi Phi will continue to address the matter with our local Chapter.




  • Chi Phi Launches Loyalty Campaign

    By | National News | No Comments

    Preserve the fraternity experience for the next generation

    Learn More about the Loyalty Campaign

    In just five years, Chi Phi will be the first Greek lettered social fraternity in America to be celebrating its bicentennial. We take enormous pride and comfort in the knowledge that, despite the numerous challenges we have weathered and those facing Greek Life today, Chi Phi continues to subscribe to the same code of integrity that has been our legacy for two centuries. We remain steadfastly committed to doing fraternity the right way through the unwavering congruence between our words and our actions.

    However, we now face challenges that are vastly different from even a decade ago. The meteoric rise in college tuition and the cost of fraternity liability insurance premiums are now placing serious financial burdens on Greek Life. These burdens, along with Ritual, membership growth, and fraternity expansion, are just some of the programs not eligible for funding through a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization like the Chi Phi Educational Trust.

    Grants awarded from the Educational Trust provide for the bulk of the Fraternity’s educational expenses, amounting to about 25% of Chi Phi’s annual operating revenue. Much of the revenue to fund the remaining 75% of the Fraternity’s programs and services comes via undergraduate dues. This revenue model is no longer sustainable and, given the financial challenges facing our Chapters, this system has become a burden on our members. It is essential to our future health and that of our Chapters that we identify and develop additional sources of funding.

    To that end, the Fraternity will reinstate the Loyalty Campaign. As in years past, it will be a once a year campaign, to be conducted during the first six months of each calendar year. Please visit chiphi.org/loyalty to learn more about the campaign and how your support will preserve the fraternity experience.

    Your support is the lifeblood of our fraternal mission. It is an investment in our future and provides the necessary resources to ensure that our young Brothers are immersed in the values that we hold dear: Truth, Honor, and Personal Integrity. In a time when character and accountability are in great demand, I cannot imagine a better investment.

    Donate to the Loyalty Campaign

    You can make your donation online now through PayPal by clicking the button above (you don’t even need to sign up for an account!), or visit our website for other giving options.

    On behalf of the many young men whose lives have been and will be impacted by Chi Phi through your generosity, thank you.

    What our Brothers say about the programs the Loyalty Campaign will support:

     
     
     
     
     



  • Chi Phi Unites with the Max Gruver Foundation for the first #FlyHighMax 5k

    By | Chapter News, National News, Philanthropy/Community Service | No Comments

    At the annual Alphas and Thetas Academy this January, Chi Phi was honored to host Stephen and Rae Ann Gruver as keynote speakers. The Gruvers shared the story of their son Max, who passed away in 2017 after a hazing incident at Louisiana State University.

    Remembering Max and the impact that hazing has had on their family left such an impression on our members that the Fraternity and Educational Trust came together to serve as Lead Sponsors of the first Stop the Hazing #FlyHighMax 5k on February 2.

    National Staff, Friends of Chi Phi, and members of the Rho Delta Chapter at Oglethorpe University came together with more than 600 other runners to support the Max Gruver Foundation’s mission to ensure that hazing is eliminated on college campuses.

    The event was a great success for all parties, especially for the Foundation. John Fisher, Delta Pi 2013, even took home a medal for coming in 3rd for his age group. Perhaps one of the most meaningful moments of the 5k was when Rho Delta Brothers ran their final lap twice in order to stick with and support other Brothers still in the race. A real moment that shows true fraternity is about Brotherhood and community.

    Chi Phi’s partnership with the Max Gruver Foundation and the Gruver Family continues with Stephen and Rae Ann scheduled to speak at the Psi Delta Colony at UNC Charlotte on March 24. If you are interested in bringing the Gruvers to speak with your Chapter or campus, contact Assistant Executive Director Danny Zayas to learn more about how to make it happen.

    The event in images

    (click to enlarge)

    Chi Phi’s runners for the event included undergraduate members of the Rho Delta Chapter Arman Niknafs, Tyrell Snagg, Steve Myers, Chandler Robinson, and Luis Pereira-Hernandez. Alumnus John Fisher of the Delta Pi Chapter and his wife Danielle also ran the 5k.




  • Alpha Theta Chi Wins Fundraising Challenge at UNL

    By | Chapter News | No Comments

    A recent challenge laid out by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln saw the Alpha Theta Chi Chapter posed against sixteen other student organizations in a forty-eight hour fundraising challenge.

    From the men’s volleyball team to Nebraskans for the Upgraded Treatment of Squirrels (no, seriously, they’re N.U.T.S.), these organizations took part in UNL’s #GlowBigRed challenge as part of the University’s 150th anniversary celebration.

    The blitz challenge came with four additional incentives; an extra $1,000 to one randomly selected donor’s total, $250 to one randomly chosen organization, $250 to the group with the most money raised, and $500 to the group with the most individual donors. With such big stakes on the line, Alpha Theta Chi’s Alumni found themselves on a mission. Communication from Chapter Advisor Victor Martinez, Alpha Theta Chi 2002, was soon blasted via email and Brother after Brother stepped up to the plate.

    When the dust settled and the donations were all in, Alpha Theta Chi found itself the victor of not one, not two, but THREE of the incentive awards! With $2,030 raised by twenty-seven donors, they won $250 for the most raised and the $500 award for most individual donors. To top it off, Rick Wintermute, Alpha Theta Chi 1984, was chosen as the donor to have $1,000 added to his contribution.

    All in all, the Chapter found itself on the receiving end of $3,780 to be used for member scholarships.

    “Wow!! Thank you all,” Brother Martinez wrote in an email. “Proud to be a Chi Phi. A great 48 hours for Alpha Theta Chi! These scholarships are going to be fantastic to help recruitment both this spring and summer.”

    Join us in congratulating our Brothers on this amazing effort and their great success!

    Members of the Alpha Theta Chi Chapter gather after an intramural broomball game at UNL