The commemoration of the tragic events of Sept. 11 is to happen today in not only the areas targeted by terrorist attacks, but all across the nation and its neighbouring countries. The United States of America will honour the lives lost, the brave efforts of those on ground zero and the families affected. Concordia University students will also collectively remember 9/11 as the blow that hit so close to home.
This day at 10:30 a.m. last year, 1.2 million tons of debris covered New York City. Thousands of lives were lost when two major commercial airlines carriers hit both World Trade Center twin towers, the Pentagon and a field 80 miles outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania because of failure in reaching its final destination. Twenty-five Canadians died out of the 4,000 victims on the flights and in the buildings. Many firefighters and rescue workers perished in their efforts to save any survivors.
Three hundred and sixty-five days later, American media remains critically focused on the efforts of President George Bush who relentlessly seeks justice for the innocent who have lost their lives and for the American people still standing and existing in fear.
His war against terrorism, in retaliation to al-Qaeda suicide bombers and anthrax scares, began with the search for Osama Bin Laden and more recently, as the coalition against terrorism moved overseas, the U.S. is leading air strikes against targets in Afghanistan involving the New Precision Bomb which is guided by satellites.
In the wake of this disaster, North Americans are dealing with the changes and long-term effects wrought by the Sept. 11 attacks. Concordia students recognize that solidarity has no boundaries and that freedom cannot have any restrictions.
“If someone gets into an accident and is left with a great big visible scar, they might want to have it removed to continue existing as before. Similarly, I believe that the towers should be rebuilt while still keeping the memorial site so as to nonetheless have a reminder of that tragic day. This is the best way to bounce back and show those jealous terrorists what we North Americans are made of because learning from the past does not mean forfeiting. Make them out of titanium and taller!” says student Sonny Santangelo in regards to what should be done about the area where the World Trade Center once stood.
Still, there are many others who feel so overwhelmed by the focus the media has placed on the tragedy that they are either tired of hearing about it or feel it has disrupted their environment at the university.
“Concordia is an institution of learning and not for political games. Sept. 11 was tragic and wrong, but what is increasingly becoming a distraction is when the downtown campus is being blocked frequently with protesters along with the annoying propaganda in our school newspapers,” says Joy Wang.
Understanding the nature of the attacks has opened the minds of our young generation to different global issues.
“I have become more conscious over the past year about world terrorism as well as more open to different points of views,” says student Alex Kastans.
“I also now know more about the reasons why there are Muslims and others of the Islamic culture who view the United States in a negative light,” he adds.
Recent polls on the Internet have demonstrated that a larger percentage of Canadians feel that Americans hold some responsibility for the terrorist attacks last September.
“Americans need to be educated and need a chance to see and understand the outside world. Mass media filters so much crucial information to portray selective events as the sole reality,” says Virginia Cook, a third-year linguistics student.
“As an American, I relied on the media as education about what is happening in the world but here in Montreal, word of mouth I find is used more as a main resource. I feel living in Canada has given me a greater grasp on what is true. The family and friends I have back home go to church out of a sense of obligation and are extremely patriotic but blind faith in one’s country I believe is much worse than blind faith in a God.”
Sept. 11 will always be remembered as the day when so much uncertainty about our future was felt. To appropriately commemorate this day is decided by every human being because the aftermath has affected everyone so personally.
What will Concordia students do? Sam Berns, an administration student, says, “I’m phoning my old roommate back in New York to see how he’s coping.”
Shama Naz, a third-year economics student, is participating with the Muslim Student Association as they gather this afternoon.
“We want to remember this day with our community by hosting a special event at the Hall Building.”
Still others will not be observing the anniversary of Sept. 11. This does not mean, however, that it will be easy for them to forget it. Jessica Nichol, in her third year of biochemistry, is such a student.
“My dad was in Washington working for the federal government at the time and it became very real when the FBI took control of the building after the suicide bombings,” she says.
Lydia El-Cherif, a 21-year-old creative writing and liberal arts student, on the other hand, will basically be celebrating her roommate’s birthday, yet the victims will not be far from her mind.
“All the innocent people who [will go] to work or who [don’t] do anything [today]; I’ll think about them,” she says.
Today is the first anniversary when the most powerful nation in the world was shaken up by attacks on their safety and freedom. New York City had stifled and became a ghost town while the whole world was in mourning. America was not silenced however, and although many have not forgiven those who participated in the mass destruction, no one will ever forget September 11th.
Additional reporting done by Dahlia Liwsze.