A hawk flew past the small crowd and landed in a nearby tree, as if wanting to hear the poem read by Caity Quinn-Buck, a poem written by her late brother, Kyle Quinn.
The 19-year-old Kutztown University sophomore had been attacked and killed five years ago on Main Street in Kutztown on Sept. 7, 2007.
Realizing this date, Dr. Eric F. Johnson, history professor and once Quinn's advisor, worked with others for a paving stone to be added to the University's Alumni Plaza in memory of Quinn, which was dedicated on Sept. 8.
'Kyle used to tell us he wanted to be reincarnated as a hawk,' said Buck. 'Every time we see a hawk, we think of him.'
In Native American culture, hawks are considered symbols of strength and courage and it took strength and courage for family, friends, and community to bring good out of tragedy.
Kyle's older brother, Dennis, has spent time working with youth groups and violence intervention. His parents have donated grants to bully prevention programs. KUBok, a neighborhood watch program, was formed between the University students, Kutztown residents, and the borough's police department in an effort to create a safer environment. A scholarship was started to help further education since education was very important to Kyle. It helps Kyle's mother Denise Quinn to know that other kids are going to get that opportunity.
'I think he'd be very touched and honored; I know he would,' said Denise. 'Probably a little bit shocked, too, so many people remember him.'
Johnson said that one of the reasons he likes to teach history is that a lot of history is also just trying to find the meaning of life. He said the Roman stoics believe that if you can't control what happens to you, you can control your response.
'The Romans would consider that virtuous,' said Johnson in his address to the attendees. 'There is heroism there; you have a bad thing happen, but you still do good as a result of that.'
In President F. Javier Cevallos' address at the memorial dedication on Sept. 8, he spoke of the great legacy Kyle left behind to his family and to the University. He said the Quinn family deserves a very special thanks from the University side and from the borough side because of how they put the tragedy aside and helped all who were involved to heal and to move forward.
'I am delighted that we are doing this,' Cevallos said, and pointed to the memorial stone, 'but there is something else that we're going to be doing. When Eric contacted me this summer about it, we started thinking about Kyle and other students that have been victims of acts like this one. Our students that died and our alumni that died on 9-11 for example. We have to have a place on campus to remember them as well so the Bell Plaza in the next few months is going to be renamed. It's going to be renamed our College Guild Memorial Grove and it will be a place to honor the memory of our alumni and our students that have been victims of crimes of violence. Kyle's name will be there as well. Again, his legacy will continue to inspire us to do things.'
Kutztown Mayor Sandy Green read a letter she had been asked to write by the district attorney; it was not, however, allowed into evidence at that time.
'Kutztown has become a different place. We have on some profound level lost our innocence, but as a grieving community still coming to terms with his loss, we also realize that although his death was pointless, we are finding in any number of valuable lessons and even renewed for hope.'
Green also noted how his loss was a motivating force in the community and how his untimely death brought town and gown relations to a new level. In her letter, she recognized the work of two student ambassadors, Stephen Kenney and Carmen Bloom, who had served as student members of the Borough Council and to the Mayor of Kutztown, and how they founded the neighborhood watch program, KUBoK.
Buck reflected on what Kyle would be doing as of this date and then said, 'Our family does not live dwelling on what would have happened; Kyle would not want that. I am so grateful that he put many of his thoughts into words,' said Buck.
The last line of his poem was etched in his memorial stone:
'I have found the path home and now I am safe.'
After a final scripture reading by Joe Piscitelli, Johnson ended the service with the song, 'Blowin in the Wind,' by Bob Dylan. He remembered that Kyle was a big Bob Dylan fan.