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Remembering 9/11

September 11, 2001 is a devastating day in American history that should never be forgotten. Yet, in truth, the morning of the 16th anniversary felt like any other Monday to me. 

Had the date on my phone not stood out to me after turning off my alarm, I may never have realized what day it was. In my classes, there was no moment of silence and not even a brief mention of September 11. Outside of the classroom, there was not much talk of any kind. According to admissions, at the University of Scranton, we have 922 undergraduate students out of 3833 total undergrads who are from New York. That translates to about 24% of our undergrad student population. A number of us, whether from the state or not, have been personally affected, but all of us have absolutey been impacted. Why then, this year, does 9/11 seem so distant?

 

In the first week of the semester, my professor required our writing class to attend the “9/11” film on 4th floor DeNaples. 

Had it been optional, I likely would not have gone. In fact, nearly every student in the auditorium was only there because a teacher was requiring him or her to attend. Many students were late because sitting through a two-hour documentary was not their first priority. Also, there were a large number of empty seats. 

It is difficult for college students in 2017 to understand the significance of what happened on September 11. College seniors were in kindergarten at the time. At five year olds, we could not possibly comprehend the magnitude and trauma of an event like this, if we can remember anything at all. It does not feel as real, and understandably so. We were not able to feel the same experience of shock, horror, and heartbreak that older generations heavily felt. 

“9/11” is a 2002 French-American real-life documentary made by two brothers, Jules and Gedeon Naudet. It is the recipient of eight awards, including a Peabody and an Emmy. I wish I had known about it years ago. It left me stunned, at a loss for words, and with a greater sense of awareness.

The film is brilliant because it was made by sheer accident. The Naudet brothers were originally creating an innocent film from the point of view of the New York City Fire Department. They were focusing on probationary firefighter Tony Benetatos and his journey of a boy growing into a man. What they got was much more: they proved he not only became a man, but a hero, as 9/11 was his first fire. 

“9/11” is eye opening, raw and riveting. The brothers captured hours of live footage inside One World Trade Center. They taped one of only three known recordings of Tower 1 being hit by the first plane. From there on, much of the footage becomes overwhelming and challenging to view.

The fascinating documentary depicts the panicked reactions of people from all over the world in the streets of the city, as well as the haunting expressions of dozens of firemen. 

Later, it hones in on the firemen’s firsthand accounts of the catastrophes they endured, providing an angle of human dimension. 

As an American citizen, I believe the film “9/11” is necessary to watch, as it accurately chronicles the pure evil and heroism of September 11.

New York City is generally acknowledged as the capital of the world, and on that day, George W. Bush stated, “Our fellow citizens, our way of life, and our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts.”

Many of us were privileged enough to not truly know what this disaster felt like because we were not there, and we were too young. However, that does not mean we should continue down the path of ignorance. 

The reality is a large percentage of our student body is from the state of New York, and 9/11 occurred only two hours away from Scranton. The odds are that many of us had a family member, friend, or friend of a friend who was in New York City that day.

I encourage readers to take two hours of your time to watch this documentary. It provided me a new understanding; a more real grasp on how this tragedy unfolded.

I also encourage the University to create a more substantial awareness leading up to 9/11 next year, so that September 11th, 2018, does not feel like just like another day at college. A simple moment of silence or a candlelit prayer service on campus would be enough to help remember the thousands of precious lives lost. 

2,996 lives were taken – businessmen and women, military and federal workers, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, neighbors and friends. 

 

We must always remember to never forget.

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