By Spenser Hickey
The physical signs on campus may have been few, but the grim weight of memory still sat heavy on us all.
Around campus, things were different today. The JAYWalk seemed quieter, and the time between classes seemed longer; the day as a whole seemed more drawn out, offering added time to reflect and look back on that morning, 12 years ago.
There were some reminders – not that we needed them. One student wore an NYPD shirt; another had one with the New York City skyline; the flag at the fire station on the aptly named Liberty Street hung at half-mast. I never heard anyone say what had happened verbally, but we all knew.
In what has become a memorial custom of our modern age, many took to social media to offer their reflections and commemorations for the lives lost that day; one student mourned her father, while another posted that he was pulling an all-nighter in Beeghly for the first time since the night US Special Forces killed Osama Bin Ladin.
Ohio Wesleyan was not spared by this tragic attack on America – Douglas Cherry, Class of 1985; Edward Luckett, Class of 1984; and Ann Judge, Class of 1973 were among the 2,977 victims.
They have been honored with a memorial rock and garden on the academic side, but this year there were no special services, or university-wide commemorations of the lives lost among the OWU community. Twelve years is a long time, and eventually the yearly memorials and moments of silence end.
But even without these traditional rites, even if no one brings the day up in conversation, the pall remains, as it always will. This day was the Pearl Harbor or the Kennedy assassination of our generation, and the memories – where we were, how we found out – will never fade. That day affected all of us, not just those who live in and around New York, or Washington, or Shanksville, PA.
Since that day we have witnessed one successful terror attack at home and many more abroad, as well as a number of failed ones, and fought and ended two wars, waged in the name of those killed, and sent military troops around the world as part of an ongoing global war. Last night, the President made the case for another foreign intervention in the Middle East.
Today – or at least this piece about today – is not the place to discuss whether the war in Syria is right or wrong, or if the NSA should have the power it does, or if surveillance by federal and police authorities of the Muslim-American community has overstepped the bounds of civil rights; I mention these as ways we as a nation and a society have been affected by the tragedy.
We have become more fearful, more patriotic, more aware of global issues. The day and the years that followed changed us, changed our culture, as shows like 24 and Homeland played up our fear of terrorist infiltration and our trust in renegade government agents willing to do whatever was necessary, regardless of if it was legal.
America was at war, and when sacrifices were needed we rose to the occasion, whether as first responders on the day, or soldiers, airmen, sailors and marines in the wars that followed; we showed the world and ourselves the depth of our resolve, as we did again after the Boston Marathon, as we may have to again.
As the day winds down and we go on with our lives, let us take some time to remember the 2,977 men and women who stepped from this earth into the arms of our national memory.
In what remains of today, and on the day next year, and the year after that, take some time to remember them, and those they left behind who will never forget, because of the events of that day – this day, 12 years ago.