By Meredith Kreigh
Chris M. Kirby, a carpenter, 152 pounds, blue eyes. William Kelley Jr., six feet, 175 pounds, Timex Ironman watch on left wrist. Tonyell McDay, African American, five feet four inches, ruby ring on left pinky finger. FEMA recorded the posters plastered around Manhattan 12 years ago.
In desperation, people reached out in the days following Sept. 11, 2001. Despair answered back.
“Somehow, it happened 12 years ago, and it still feels like it was last week,” said sophomore Charles Wilcox.
Wilcox lost a close friend that day. For a while, he was not even sure that she had actually been in the building, but news came back. The bank where she had been recently hired toured the World Trade Center on that day. She was there.
“When something like this happens, the immediate thought is, ‘I’m alone.’ But the aloneness was selfish. I was never really alone, but I lost sight of that. I got angry,” Wilcox said.
“People see smoke and crashes and terrorists. That’s not what we see. We see faces. Faces that will never be in front of us again,” he continued.
Wilcox said Sept. 11 changed everything: travel, public policy, perception. It changed how Americans viewed security.
Security is resistance to, or protection from harm. Security sounds like a guarantee. But it gets interrupted. It gets shaken. Sept. 11 shook the idea of security.
That Tuesday Rudolph Giuliani, then mayor of New York City, addressed a crowd saying, “We should act bravely and we should show these people that they can’t stop us.”
American resolve. Whether it is as real as projected or not, that quality shows itself faithfully when this nation remembers that tragedy.
Sometimes, there is a flashbulb memory: someone says they can remember exactly where they were, who they were talking to, how the news hit them. Others did not even know until well after the fact. Either way, the residual effects touched America. It made Americans think about security—what is or is not secure and what they wish could be guaranteed.
“If there is a silver lining to that day, it is this,” said Wilcox, “we are a safer country. We got rid of some of the American arrogance and realized that we are vulnerable.”