On Sept. 11, 2001, many of Anderson University’s current students remember sitting in elementary school, doing everyday work until the news that the World Trade Center towers had been struck by two passenger planes reached their classroom.
Today is the 11th anniversary of the tragedy, and multiple AU students describe 9/11 as the younger generation’s Pearl Harbor.
Sophomore Dominique Speed said it’s still sad to think about all the lives lost.
[Photo: The Anderson Fire Department put out 50 9/11 memorial plaques, honoring fallen firefighters from the terrorist attacks, in the front yard of its headquarters for the 9/11 anniversary. Credit: John P. Cleary / The Herald Bulletin]
More than 3,000 people were killed in the terrorist attacks; the worst on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbor.
“It was a game changer for our generation,” Speed said. “One of the first things to happen (during our lifetime) that was really tragic.”
Some watched it unfold on the news, some had teachers explaining it to them and others were kept in the dark at school.
Junior Kristen Langolf didn’t really find out what was happening until she got home, where she said her mom watched the news and cried.
Even at a young age, she described it as a “traumatic” event to see on TV, her parents trying to explain it to her.
As she got older, Langolf began to “understand the gravity of what happened,” and has seen how it’s affected the nation.
National security became a bigger issue, and people started to pay a lot more attention to what was going on in the Middle East and the rest of the world, she said.
Junior Dylan Bowen also remembers 9/11 clearly: where he was, what he was doing.
“I didn’t understand what was going on,” he said. “I knew it wasn’t good, though.”
Both he and Langolf said they now feel a terrorist attack is more likely to happen elsewhere in the world, where there is more public unrest, but that they’re not naive enough to believe an attack could never happen again in the United States.
Eleven years later, Bowen said he believes people should still pay their respects and pay attention to the impact 9/11 had.
“Those younger (who don’t remember it) don’t understand as well,” he said. “They didn’t experience it like we did. They’re not going to fully comprehend what others went through.”
Sarah Tanselle, a junior, said there was a lot of fear at her school that day in 2001; a fear that nearby Purdue University may be attacked because of all the research and equipment at the school. She also remembers the tears of one of her teachers.
“I still find it really sad,” she said. “It’s sad that we’re still fighting about it.”
While there does seem to still be more media coverage of world events today, she said people’s interest in 9/11 itself has begun to wane because it’s “not right in our faces anymore.”
When it happened, many Americans were “gung ho” about taking action because it was “on our home turf,” she said. But now, with Osama bin Laden dead, she said interest has died down and many want the conflict overseas to be over.
To Tanselle and many of those in her generation, today is still a day of remembrance, though.
— Dani Palmer is a report for The Herald Bulletin. Story reposted with permission.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.