New York City is approximately three and a half hours away from Williamsport. From the distant perspective, it is easy to feel far removed from the place where an event of terrorism devastated our nation thirteen years ago on this day. Factor in the equally significant results of Flight 93’s heroic, fatal landing in Pennsylvania, and it may seem a little closer to home, geographically. Sept. 11, 2001 holds meaning to many currently at our school and those who came before us.
|Photo Credit: flickr user syue2K|
In terms of regional diversity, many of the students are from somewhere in the northeast, and more specifically Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, and New York. Though there are not many from the New York Metropolitan area, this event still had a far reaching effect on those attending the college. If you are walking towards Heim past Crever Hall and Forrest Hall, you might casually look to your right and notice a tree with a small plaque beneath it. This plaque commemorates three of the college’s alumni who were lost due to the attacks. It’s easy to overlook. Remembering the event itself is getting progressively harder, because the current students were so young when it happened.
The classes of 2017 and 2018 may hold some of the last students who actually remember the event. They were in the first grade and kindergarten at the time. I tried to talk to some students to see what they remembered from the day and what their experience of the day might have been like.
Madison Ramsey, a sophomore and resident of Pennsylvania, said, “I don’t really remember anything about the day. I think they made us watch what happened on TV, but that’s it.”
I am the same age as Madison, but she and I had different experiences, because I was much closer to the event being a native Long Islander. They would not talk too much about what was happening while we were in class, and many of my classmates were taken out of class without explanation by their families. Many of the communities around me contained families in which parents may have worked in the buildings or were called to the emergency to help. The families were left to explain what was happening to the youngest of us and so much of the day was filled with pressing fear and confusion.
Sean Hastings, a freshman from Pennsylvania, also said that he didn’t remember anything, and I would predict that many freshmen would say the same. Proximity and age were important factors to the experiences of current students, and at ages five and six most of our minds had not developed enough to really understand what was going on. It was perceived more on an emotional level as we watched older people react.
|Photo Credit: flickr user Marines|
Liz Perez is the president of Silent Ranks and a senior from NY whose town borders the city area. Perez said, “A large part of my town was directly affected by the event, because so many of my neighbors worked in the city, and we also have a high population of service men and women who were called to help that day. My mom was an emergency volunteer who was called in.” She made a point to say, “I feel sympathy for the ROTC members who signed up the day before the attack, specifically intending to stay Reserves, and the next day were called to active duty.” Perez recalled one of her professors explaining to her that some of the members sent to New York were from Lycoming College. In the wake of the disaster the four hours was nothing, and the attack was brought more directly to campus.
Katy Gryzwinski, ‘04, said that being at school, away from her home in central New Jersey, felt weird. She felt like all that was happening at home, and she was three hours away, unable to do anything about it.
“There was never an attack on the U.S. of such shocking magnitude before or after September 11,” said Perez. And it’s something we should keep in mind. Although it’s difficult for current students to recall exactly what happened on that day, we all can feel the lasting effects, and it will be up to us to help future generations understand and remember the day’s importance.