Editorial: Keeping 9/11 in the conversation

Monday marked the 16th Anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks that took the lives of 2,976 Americans in New York, N.Y., Shanksville, Pa., and Washington, D.C. In previous years, coverage of the nationally-observed moment of silence, the reading of the names, family members gathering at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, etc. permeated the media.

This year’s remembrance felt slightly different. While the press did cover the 16th Anniversary, coverage of 9/11 paled in comparison to both previous anniversary years and to coverage of Hurricane Irma, which made landfall in Florida on Sunday.

We must contemplate how, from both a societal and media-oriented standpoint, we collectively agree to honor the lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001. Concurrently, we must contemplate how (and if) we decide to cease coverage of other milestone anniversaries like Pearl Harbor, in which nearly as many lives were lost. Is this a dilemma of time? Will the impact of 9/11 someday fade? Is it already fading?

Presently, we should think about what steps we as a University community might take for a more unified and collective commemoration of 9/11. We should consider, perhaps, the possibility that the Conservatives’ Club should not be the only group charged with organizing and planting American flags to remember the 2,976 lives lost. 

There are members of our University community who were and continue to be directly impacted by the events of Sept. 11, 2001. The Kappa Delta Rho Fraternity lost two of its alums, Brad Fetchet ’99 and Mark McGinly ’97. Keith Coleman ’90 was a member of Sigma Chi fraternity. Bonnie Smithwick ’54 helped to establish the women’s golf team.

The University has extremely close ties to New York City. Many current students reside in or near the tri-state area. Furthermore, the University is hours away from Shanksville, Pa., where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed and Washington, D.C., where American Airlines Flight 11 hit the Pentagon. For those that do have deeply-personal connections, it might be upsetting to see 9/11 go largely unrecognized and unmentioned by administration, faculty, and staff.

The University does an excellent job in raising awareness and organizing events, programs, and lecture series. In fact, the 2016 University-sponsored MLK Week, “Violence of Hate,” included remarks from four Sandy Hook fathers. Should the University take a greater role in facilitating conversations about 9/11, resiliency, counter-terrorism, and the impact of mass trauma in order to keep both the events of 9/11 and victims’ legacies alive?

Should other student organizations, like KDR brotherhood, Sigma Chi fraternity, or the women’s golf team be included in annual 9/11 remembrance events? Is it fair for the responsibility of such an emotionally-weighty event to fall on one student organization? Or, should the University, not a student-run organization, set the tone in commemorating 9/11?

We might think, too, about our responsibility as The Bucknellian to take a more active role in commemorating the 9/11 Anniversary on campus.

Perhaps the University should consider at least an option for school-wide, unified remembrance, i.e. holding a moment of silence at 8:46 and 9:03 a.m, when the North and South Towers were hit, respectively.  

Some members of our editorial board expressed disappointment in the University’s response. This year, the annual flag plant occurred much later than usual; the flags were not placed before mid-afternoon. Considering the significance of that Sept. 11 morning, a more timely placement, in solidarity with national remembrance events, seemed more appropriate.

The Bucknellian encourages remembrance, reflection, and dialogue celebrating the lives of our 9/11 alumni. We encourage you to read their stories and to share their legacies. We also welcome responses and feedback on this topic. Profiles of the four alumni can be accessed at https://bucknellian.net/65940/features/911-fifteen-years/. 

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