Liz: One of my first memories as a kid was talking about 9/11. It sounds very sad, but it was totally culture-changing for America, and our generation didn’t know how it was before, just after. Adults talk about how the U.S. was like before, reminiscing about how things were easier. I didn’t have any family members who were in the World Trade Center, but my aunt Fedra was living in Brooklyn at the time. She said that she stood at the top of her apartment building and watched the buildings fall down and the utter chaos below. Born in 1999, I was only a toddler when this happened. People’s lives changed, and I wasn’t aware of the outer world yet. It’s a scary thought, that someone’s life was so changed and altered, but a little Ohioan girl was alive and safe and allowed to be oblivious to it. I wonder how things would be different if it never happened, but I guess we’ll never know.
Nina: It’s crazy to think that the new first-years may not have been alive for 9/11. I was born in ‘98, and therefore don’t have any concrete memories of the tragedy itself, but I will always remember what transpired after. The 9/11 attacks happened on the same weekend my mother flew to Boston. I was only a toddler, and it was her first time travelling without me. She can still recall the panic and terror she felt as flight after flight was cancelled, and she had to rent a car to drive home to her family. In the weeks after, our tiny Illinois town lived in fear of another attack. But other people were scared for different reasons. As word spread that some Americans were committing acts of vandalism and violence against people who appeared Middle Eastern, our local Indian restaurant hung a sign on their door that said “We are not Muslims.” It was an undoubtedly scary time for everyone living in the U.S., and plunged us into an extremely controversial war. It puts it into perspective to consider that since the founding of this country, we have only known about 20 years of peace; we have been at war for 93% of our nation’s history
Joey: There is a picture taken in January of 2001 on my second birthday with the World Trade Centers in the background. It’s kind of eerie to look at, knowing that almost nine months later to the day those towers were not standing. Like most Denison students, I was too young to remember and understand much of 9/11, but it still had an impact on me. In September, my family had just moved down to DC, and my dad was at work in the city when the plane struck The Pentagon, a place that he still drives by everyday to work. While most people tried to get out of the city, that wasn’t an option for my dad, as he had to stay at work and write about what was going on. It’s crazy to think that if he was late or left early, he could’ve been driving right by the Pentagon when the plane hit. It’s also a reminder of how important journalism is and was in the processing of tragedies like 9/11.
Devin: I was about 2 years old during 9/11, and so I’ve retained no memories of my actual experiences that day, being too young to comprehend such a tragedy in even an abstract sense. This is partially why, 18 years later, watching 25th Hour, shot and set in New York right off the heels of 9/11, was such a transcendent experience, for it finally gave me headlong at the immediate aftermath. Released into theaters just over a year after 9/11, the film was directed by Spike Lee and scripted by David Benioff (bear with me), both men native New Yorkers. Made when the memory of that day was still an open wound, the film incorporates distinctly post-9/11 anxiety to the seemingly unrelated story about the last day of freedom that Monty Brogan (Edward Norton) has before a seven-year prison term. The opening titles play over a montage of the 9/11 memorial, showing how the lights appear from different vantage points throughout NYC, while a self-deluding rant that Monty indulges in at the end of the first act about his supposed hatred of the city comes off more as a sardonic love letter by Lee to his hometown.