Slipping into History: 9/11

Victoria Cubera

Nine. Eleven. The numbers seem inconspicuous enough. They’re both odd; one is prime and the other is not. Any middle-schooler can tell you as much. Put the two numbers together, however, and one of the most powerful symbols in contemporary America is displayed.

September Eleventh. Tuesday marked the sixth anniversary of the attacks made on the World Trade Center. Colgate, along with the rest of the country, took notice of the day. Bells were rung. Memorial concerts were held. Speeches were made. On anniversaries, it’s easy to remember.

But is our country forgetting? Do we still feel apprehension when approaching national landmarks or pay attention to the conveniently color-coded terror levels before boarding our flights? And yes, perhaps monuments will be erected, and movie makers, like news corporations, will find ways to profit off of tragedy, but beyond the obvious, how is the United States remembering its wake-up call to vulnerability?

Perhaps the most obvious active reminder of national catastrophe is Rudy Giuliani’s campaign for the presidency. Credited with cutting crime rates in New York City and seen as a figure of strength in the aftermath of the attacks, Giuliani is one of the front-runners for the Republican ticket. Whether he can win the election riding on the back of his response to terrorism in America remains to be seen.

Outside of New York State, the effects of the assault on our national psyche can be seen in the Patriot Act. The endangerment of civil liberties in the name of fighting terror obviously serves the American Public well, but that is another article in and of itself.

The anniversary did not receive much fanfare here, and I cannot help but wonder if that is due, in part, not just to apathy, or forgetfulness, or the progression of time, but to the absence of a military presence on campus. 9/11 was an essential justification for the War on Terror. Our country still has troops fighting and dying overseas.

Colgate is largely detached from this reality. An ROTC program exists in conjunction with Syracuse University. Over 650 degrees were conferred at the 2007 Colgate University Commencement Ceremony. Three graduating students were commissioned in the United States Marine Corps, according to the July issue of The Colgate Scene. If we had students on campus actively engaged in military training, I wonder if the date would mean more, as a reminder that citizens – some no older than us – are still dealing with the consequences of the terrorist attacks on American soil six years ago.

We are all being exposed to the after-effects of 9/11. What was once an ordinary day on the calendar has become much more symbolic. Perhaps it is advisable to keep in mind that every day on the calendar bears that same potential. To guard our present against threats, whether those threats are posed by outside extremist forces or our own government, we must continue to acknowledge and truly remember our history.