2,977 people died eleven years ago on one of the most horrendous and unforgettable days of American history. Sept. 11, 2001 marked the beginning of a very long journey for Americans, whether it was a journey of personal healing from losing a loved one, or it was a journey as a country to decide what to do next. Since then, this unforgettable day has been memorialized in several ways from moments of silence in all the schools across the country to the $610 million memorial and museum at Ground Zero in New York City.
Here at Maryville University, the students had their own way of remembering the lives that were lost in the 9/11 tragedy. All throughout the day, Hutting Chapel opened her doors to all faculty/staff and students to come and light a candle in the Sacred Heart Chapel in honor of those who lost their lives that day. Walking in, one turns to find a very small and a very quiet room – the only source of light coming from the small candles on the table surrounding a picture of the first responders putting up the American flag over the remains of the Twin Towers. Many of the candles have already been lit – their wax basins empty – and a cup full of burnt matches sits next to the spread.
Sitting next to the candles were four other pictures, only these four were a timeline depicting the events from that terrible day. Outside on the Gander Quad stood staked posters – each one containing a list of victims from that day. Students could be seen stopping and looking at the long list of names as they went to and from their classes.
But are we remembering 9/11 as we should? You will find that many people hardly remember that April 14, 1912 was the day the Titanic sank or that Dec. 7, 1941 was the day that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and launched the United States into World War II. These were also unforgettable days and each tragedy had a memorial built in its honor, too. But now, it seems that these unforgettable days are being forgotten. Even most of the schools have stopped beginning Sept. 11 with a moment of silence. Are these days of silence being silenced?
When asked, many of the freshmen that have just joined Maryville’s ranks will say that they don’t remember doing anything special to recognize this tragic day in years past (last year, being the exception as it was the ten year anniversary). A few of them who went to a religious school will talk about a service they had to honor it, but little else. The question therefore must be asked again: is this day slipping more and more into history classes and less and less in America’s mind?
I know that for me specifically, the major reminder of 9/11 came last year at the ten year anniversary, when the city of New York opened the National September 11 Memorial and Museum at Ground Zero. The $530 million project took ten years to plan, raise funds, build and track down names. There was a lot of speculation in the news in the weeks leading up to the anniversary that the memorial wouldn’t be finished in time. But the city was resilient, and the beautiful fountains were turned on Sept.11, 2011. The fountains themselves are better described as waterfalls that cascade down a thirty-foot drop into a collective pool where the Twin Towers once stood at their bases. All around the fountains are marble plaques that have the names of the victims forever inscribed into stone.
For weeks leading up to the grand opening – and even a few days after – the memorial appeared in news stories throughout the country. In this clear and peaceful reminder, the city of New York showed the world that they did not, have not, and will not forget the lives that were lost that day. This is why I was very proud and excited to hear that Maryville has their own way of remembering this day. To find that I wasn’t the only one who went into the Sacred Heart Chapel and lit a candle that day was a relief, and I had a sense of patriotic pride I haven’t felt in a long time. I am quite excited to be able to go back there next year to light another candle for this silent day.