Saturday, September 11, 2021

Lest we Forget: Remembering September 11

 by Gillian Macdonald

As the news media around the US girds itself to mark the somber occasion of September 11, we take a moment to reflect on this tragedy. Twenty years ago, the September 11 attacks sent shock waves through the nation and the world. Thousands lost their lives when four commercial airplanes were used to target prominent US buildings, including the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Here in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, the Morning Sun and Central Michigan Life reported on the tragic events. The Morning Sun’s headline read: “Under attack: Outrageous attacks claim thousands.” Susan Field and Linda Gittleman reported on a Western Michigan University student’s grounding by Federal Aviation officials in Mount Pleasant that Tuesday. Jason Schilling was on a routine flight for his aviation class when he was grounded by the FAA. Entering the terminal in Mount Pleasant, Schilling and his friend were confronted with the unfolding attacks on a television mounted on the wall. Schilling commented “We were up there flying. We couldn’t even believe it.” In Isabella County, the Michigan State Police were on high alert and the emergency management center was on partial activation status.

Heather Sonntag from CM Life reported that senior Kristina Bukoski thought “the devastation on her television was staged,” she didn’t quite know how to comprehend the tragedy. Students from CMU’s campus were left speechless and relied on each other and counseling support to deal with the overwhelming loss. In response, the University organized meetings at the dining halls and Bovee University Center allowing students and counselors to meet and lean on each other. CMU President Rao formed an emergency ad hoc crisis management team in effort to control safety concerns across campus. The attacks themselves had forced the cancellation of classes on September 11; by September 12, President Rao followed President Bush’s lead by urging a return to normalcy on campus. The faculty were also instructed to be considerate of individual reactions to the tragedy; students were not excused from class but allowed to leave campus if they wanted.

Twenty years later, we can still abide by President Rao’s words to campus: “It is important that, in the face of tragedies such as this, humans come together in support of and respect for one another, and I feel sure that this will be the case at CMU because of our long tradition of caring for one another.” Life has never been the same, nor should it be. The first memorials to the attacks came in the immediate aftermath and each year, two bright columns of light shine in New York city near the site of where the World Trade Center once stood. Here on CMU’s campus, the September 11 attacks are marked every year with a memorial flag garden situated next to the Park Library. Lest we forget those who lost their lives.