By: Sarah Tewksbury, Editor-in-Chief
Today marks the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack on American soil. It has been 16 years since 2,977 individuals were killed as a result of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s carefully coordinated efforts. Moments of silence will be held around the nation that will focus on memorializing the innocent lives lost. Flowers will be placed on monuments and in cemeteries to commemorate the sacrifices. Flags will be dispersed around college campuses to remind students to “Never Forget” —the slogan crafted to draw attention to the horrific events of the day.
I, too, mourn the loss of the 2,977 humans who were simply trying to get through life. Everyday we wake up and walk through life together, living by human constructed societal rules. On September 11, 2001 a large group of people woke up and tried to survive one more day, yet their efforts were thwarted because of hatred.
Groups across the country have planned beautiful and meaningful events to commemorate the nationalistic filled response to the attack. The National Teen Age Republicans (TARS) encourages school aged children to hold signs along roads that read, “Never Forget 9/11 God Bless America,” hold a flag memorial ceremony or organize a moment of silence. TARS also encourages students to “make sure the American flags on campus are at half-mast.”
Profound writers and thinkers have pondered the American response to 9/11 since the fateful day. Wilfred McClay wrote a lengthy piece for the tenth anniversary of the attack for National Affairs. In his piece, McClay write, “Any attempt to memorialize September 11th should above all else express American resiliency, American strength, and American determination to prevail over the forces represented by the attacks.”
I believe that the strength of American patriotism is beautiful and should be something that every citizen is able to enjoy. However, I think it is heinous for memorializations and decadent speeches to be made about American strength, resiliency and determination when some of those using the word “American” do not actually always mean every individual living within the borders and territories of the United States. 9/11 was a day that showed Americans how horrifying hatred can be. All hate towards and misuse of the human spirit continues to breed negativity and destruction to our communities in this nation.
The intense display of nationalism shown today will be short lived and emotionally charged. People remember where they were when the attack happened. I vividly remember the day. I was in first grade when it happened. The elementary school nurse whispered the news to my teacher in my classroom. Together they hugged and cried and then the entire school went to the gymnasium to have an assembly where we sang and sat together. When I got home, my sweet mother tried to rationalize and explain to her six and eight year old daughters what had happened. The tragedy was not and is not lost on me.
What is lost on me is the intense support people harbor to celebrate the anniversary of the fall of the World Trade Center while simultaneously forgetting all that it truly means to be an American. On this day, thinkers will wonder and discuss American strength but will they remember that the same hatred that ran through the veins of the al Qaeda fighters and martyrs is running through the veins of American citizens at this very moment? We are all only trying to survive for a short period of time on this earth.