Radiating through the bottomless blue sky are the sun’s rays, contrasting against the dark, solemn memories that surround the haunting date of Sept 11. Memories of the Twin Towers collapsing to their demise, of deceased loved ones, and of the screams of terror heard throughout the city are all memories that plague the minds of people everywhere today.
Students, faculty and staff, and citizens of Keene, NH all congregated in the Mabel Brown Room during the 9-TEN-11 commemoration to reflect upon the devastating events that occurred ten years ago.
This commemoration provided students with the opportunity to let their stories be heard, from what it was like to be in elementary school, high school, and even college on that fateful day.
Each story demonstrated the significance of Sept 11 on our lives and ultimately unified every age group of our generation.
As students approached the podium to tell their detailed account of Sept 11, there was a steady period of silence in which the audience waited to hear their experience on that fatal day.
Junior Kristy Mastropietro recalled the typical school day that turned into utter chaos.
She spoke with a steady voice, one that was confident in the story she was sharing.
“The first thing I remember about that day was silence. Phones must have ringed, teachers must have run into the room in full terror, but the only thing I remember is silence. My whole class sat in silence as if we all knew something absolutely terrible had just happened.”
Throughout the speeches given by Mastropietro, Nicolette Burns, a KSC alumna, and Antonino Hunter, a KSC student and veteran, Jennifer Ferrell, coordinator of Student Activities, repeatedly pondered the question, “Where was I?”
During the attacks, Ferrell was completing her last semester of college in Pittsburgh, PA.
Her school was 45 minutes away from where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a field near Somerset, PA. Immediately, Ferrell thought, “It’s right here, right next to us, in our backyard. What else? What is going to happen next?”
Fearing the unknown was the one emotion that controlled the thoughts and actions of people everywhere in the country.
This fear not only had a crippling effect on Ferrell, but on Mastropietro as well:
“My mom had me go down to my neighbor’s house two houses down to get something. Fear filled my mind. As I ventured out into a completely new world filled with fear and unknown I ran, I ran as fast as I could to that house.
Each few steps I would look up in the sky, thinking a plane was going to hit me, thinking someone was after me, I was next. The air was silent, all airports were shut down, never had it ever been so quiet, but still that fear of the unknown, our world had just been turned upside down; I feared what was coming next.”
Even though what was coming next has had a lasting impact on our country, this fear has showed us that “we are going forward together,” said Rose Kundanis, journalism professor.
This commemoration provided students, faculty and staff, and community members with a place to remember and reflect on the events of Sept. 11, in a place that was our own space. This space allowed attendees to be “moved in their own recollections and views of the future,” said Kundanis. These recollections and views of the future are all reminders that our culture has changed, said Kundanis. The acts committed by the terrorists, the courageous efforts made by the fire and police stations, and even the actions of family members and friends, each define the culture that surrounds our lives.
This commemoration presented the opportunity to ponder the moments and memories that have been trapped in the confines of our minds, giving us “a chance to reflect for ourselves,” Kundanis explained.
For most, this day was a time to pause, a time to think, and a time to collect their thoughts, said education professor Nancy Lory.
This commemoration gave individuals a chance “to tell their story,” which gave attendees a chance to understand, a chance to make sense of this devastation that was out of our control, said Lory.
The Sept. 11 attacks were out of everyone’s control; however, there are small things you can control.
Lory believes that one element everyone can control is to “not stop talking, not to stop voicing their point of view.”
Lory believes that these points of view make students aware that “their voices count” and that we should never stop remembering.
As the 9-TEN-11 commemoration came to a close, the sun continued to exude radiance.
However, drops of rain descended from the bright, clear sky, just like tears shedding from a red- rimmed eye down the contours of an individual’s cheek.
These drops of water remind everyone that America is resilient and will continue to mourn the lives lost on Sept.11, together.
Samantha Norton can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org