On the morning of September 11, 2001 at 8:46 a.m., the first hijacked plane hit the Twin Towers in the most heinous terrorist attack our country has ever seen. In years past and since, that morning has always warranted contemplation and a moment of silence. A discussion. A collective sigh. Even an appreciation of how far we’ve come.
However, on September 11, 2014, just thirteen years later, I sat in my 8 a.m. class and watched the clock tick past 8:46 a.m. I watched the teacher for minutes before and after, hoping she would say something, anything. I watched a girl in an FDNY sweatshirt silently cross herself. I thought about the events on those days as I have in the years past, yet this year it was without facilitation. Just about three hours and a mere thirteen years removed from New York City on that infamous day, it seemed as if suddenly “Never Forget” was indeed forgotten.
With all due credit, the university held a ceremony at 8:45 a.m. outside Fitzelle Hall where a memorial stands in the form of two wooden towers for the lives lost in the tragedy, including four SUNY Oneonta alumni. But as I passed only 45 minutes earlier, I wouldn’t have known the anniversary was the reason those towers were built. A number of celebrities and peers on social media did honor the victims of that day, but it was relatively few and far between, a diamond left to find in the rough. Yet, the memorial still stands without flowers. The students go on without a mere e-mail, outlining the importance of stopping to remember. In order to progress, we often have to return to where we’ve come from.
We’re very quick to forget how that one day, that one morning, that one moment changed our everyday lives. Beyond the lives lost and the family, friends and communities left without their loved ones, we forget the reason why we stand on two-hour security lines and can’t bring a bag into Yankee Stadium. Everyday, people who appear to be from the Middle East are feared and given suspicious glances. Yet, at the same time, we forget to think about that day, and as a result, we have begun to replace feelings of loss, memoriam and strength with those of hate and fear.
It is eerily significant that on September 10, 2014, President Barack Obama spoke about the urgent need to act on ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the terrorist group that publicly beheaded two American journalists and are causing destruction and fear worldwide. As he plans to drop air strikes and train non-American soldiers to destroy ISIS, it’s hard not to imagine the inevitable repercussions. We’re terrified to think it could be another 9/11. Perhaps people have just become so used to it and are now jaded. Maybe we can’t bring ourselves to continue to remember.
Just as many still remember the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 as a day of infamy, we must remember these times. It wasn’t just my professors who didn’t mention it. People throughout the nation and throughout the world neglected to remember, or at least do so publicly. And as we boast the slogan of “Never Forget,” words that are so powerful together because of what we’ve been through with them, it seems as if we’re so caught up in our current lives that we just simply do, “forget.”