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Tuesday, July 05, 2022

On the five-year anniversary of 9/11, UF assistant theater professor Tim Altmeyer stood at Ground Zero, no microphone in hand, reciting short stories about those who fell during the 2001 attacks.

"We stood on the street, like street preachers almost," Altmeyer said. "It was like this one voice trying to rise above it all."

Watching the busy passers-by clad in suits in New York's financial district, Altmeyer was surprised by how many people stopped to listen.

At UF, for the 10-year anniversary of the attacks, Reitz Union passers-by also will get the chance to listen.

For a five-day, 60-hour period starting today from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., volunteers will read 2,310 unconventional 9/11 obituaries at the Reitz Union Amphitheater. The readings will resume Sept. 6 to 9 after Labor Day.

The obits come from the book "Portraits 9/11/01," which The New York Times originally published shortly after the attacks in a series called "Portraits of Grief." Volunteers will each take a 30-minute reading shift.

UF College of Fine Arts Dean Lucinda Lavelli, whose college is coordinating the event, is one of the volunteers.

"This is a special thing that the arts are bringing to the UF community to celebrate these Americans who so unfortunately lost their lives," Lavelli said.

Altmeyer said the the readings humanize an event that has become political.

"Hopefully as people are busying themselves in the Reitz Union they will stop," he said.

To volunteer to read, email Tim Altmeyer at

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