Remembering 9/11: The 21st Anniversary 

By: Colin Bulger | Health and Lifestyle Editor 

On the morning of September 11th, 2001 our country was shocked by the deadliest foreign attack on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbor. It would only be suitable to take a moment of silence for the 2,997 lives lost and the 25,000 who were injured 21 years ago. 

To the passengers on Flight 93 who undermined the terrorists on board and sacrificed their lives to prevent further attacks on our country. Thank you and may you rest in peace.

To the heroic first responders who saved lives while sacrificing their own. Thank you and may you rest in peace.

To the man in the red bandana, who made three trips to the 78th-floor sky lobby to save as many lives as possible. Thank you and may you rest in peace.

To the late citizens who saved lives. Thank you and may you rest in peace.

To those who didn’t make it back home. We remember you. May you rest in peace.

To the United States of America, for overcoming this atrocity. Thank you.

Not many, if any at all, university students remember this day. Instead of interviewing students, I interviewed some professors and faculty on campus. The emotion I could feel hearing these stories 21 years later shows how inconceivable this tragedy truly was to those who lived through it.

I started with Professor Hillman. Hillman is an associate philosophy professor here at South, who recalls where he was and what he was doing at the time the second plane struck the towers. 

“It was my first year attending graduate school at Ole Miss,” he said. “I was walking to my ethical theory class with my professor, and as we walked into the building, all of these students and teachers were surrounding the television and it was about the time the second plane hit.” 

“There was shrieking, most of us were dumbfounded,” Hillman said. “If I’m not mistaken, and I’ve asked myself this question 100 times, whether or not I am projecting something onto the past, but I could swear I remember people falling from the tower. I couldn’t help but wonder what this will do to the world.” 

Professor Koury, a communications professor, remembers 9/11 very vividly as she was a student studying for her undergraduate at South at the time. She walked into one of her classes and saw the collision of one of the towers. 

“I just froze. I didn’t know what I was seeing,” Koury said. “You could tell it was news and not a movie, but it was just so surreal.” She goes on to explain how she walked into the classroom and saw everyone distraught. Some in shock, some in tears.

“Nobody could function that day,” Koury said. “The class was planned but we just sat with each other, and watched the news trying to figure out what it meant for the country.” 

She left campus early that day to go to a daycare where most of the women in her family worked at. She explained how somberly quiet it was. 

“There were kids all around this daycare but it was just so quiet. I remember thinking: this is big. This is something that is not a typical news day. What do we do? My whole day was spent staring at the television. It wasn’t a normal day anywhere.”

Professor Koury recalls the moment President Bush was informed of the attacks. She talked about his poise and demeanor. He couldn’t act panicked or display his emotions about the country being under attack. After all, he was surrounded by unassuming, elementary-aged children.  “These kids don’t need to be upset over something they don’t know, they can’t control, they are unaware of this kind of evil,” Koury said. 

All the while, the possibility of another attack was imminent. 

“I knew it was possible. When two planes hit the buildings and one hit the pentagon, I was thinking the whole country was under attack. I really did expect planes to fall out of the sky. I couldn’t help but wonder what are they targeting, who was the next city, and why are they doing this,” Koury said. “Even here in Mobile, being a port city, and they do a lot of trade. What are they targeting? Can we be at risk? Is this something on someone’s radar to target?” 

I want you to stop and think for a second. Put yourself in the shoes of someone who lived this in real-time. Put yourself in the shoes of someone who was in New York at the time of the attack. Put yourself in the shoes of someone who was a first responder, going into a building that was bound to collapse at any moment. Put yourself in the shoes of someone on Flight 93, who knew what was happening and decided to sacrifice their life for the sake of their country. 

It is in times of adversity that we see the true spirit of people. We see the opportunities to grow from tragedy and mend the wounds of a nation together.