Students remember 9/11 attacks, aftermath

Hobie Brown

Five years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, changed America and deeply effected Missouri Southern students and faculty.

Four airplanes hijacked airliners crashed into the World Trade Center, The Pentagon and a field in Shanksville, Penn., killing a approximately 3,000 individuals. Despite the passage of time, students clearly remember where they were and what they were doing.

“I was at home trying to watch cartoons,” said Scott Parker, junior elementary education major. “I was getting mad because of the news programs breaking in, and when I realized what it was, I started watching right before the second plane hit.”

While some were at home, others were already in school.

“I was sitting in my history class when we first heard the news,” said Drew Deardorff, senior communications major. “We turned on the television after the first plane had it. It was crazy.”

The events of the day sent many people into disbelief.

“It didn’t seem real,” Deardorff said. “It was like a bad disaster movie you see on TV.

“Everything slows down and you realize that it isn’t a foreign country, that it has happened here.”

In the days following the attacks, patriotic signs and messages were found almost everywhere, from bookstores to billboards, and from adult-entertainment venues to Congress, which put aside politics to sing “God Bless America” on the steps of the Capitol.

“It changed how we look,” Deardorff said. “It brought people together and it still separates them because of the controversy over the war.”

While such reactions seemed to make Americans feel better, one instructor said its impact on the war on terror was minimal.

“Seeing the nation unite like they did after 9-11 doesn’t disturb the terrorist groups,” said Richard Spencer, assistant professor of criminal justice. “They work more on the long period of time and are not as concerned with a short time frame.”

Others reacted proactively.

“It made me mad” said Donald Gillespie, a GED student. “I enjoy the freedoms that we have, and that’s why I joined the Army and I am going over there.”

Revised security measures were also introduced in the days following the attacks of 9-11.

“I was flying home and was randomly selected to be security checked,” Parker said. “Some of the new gadgets that they have look cool but I don’t know if they actually serve a purpose.”

Spencer believes there are not enough measures in place to provide security.

“They were designed to detect and deter terrorism,” he said. “Efforts need to made to secure our borders. Also, we aren’t searching cargo as it enters our ports, and the next thing it’s being loaded on a plane.”

Pop culture felt the influence of 9-11. Songs such as Toby Keith’s “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue (The Angry American)” and Darryl Worley’s “Have You Forgotten” helped people remember the terrorist attacks. Movies and videos were either edited or a disclaimer was aired prior to its showing. The music video for “New York, New York” by Ryan Adams lets viewers know that the video was shot on Sept. 7, 2001, just 4 days before the attacks. The opening scene of the video includes a shot of the twin towers.

“Because of all of the talk and the terror alerts, we are judging our ‘danger zone’ by color, literally” Deardorff said.

“America’s strength is built on the strength of the economy and the military,” Spencer said. “If you undermine our economy, then you also undermine our ability to build weapons for our military.

“I think that many people have, to a degree, forgotten the seriousness of the threat. It is our nature as Americans that we push what happened to the background.”

The events of 9-11 involved all citizens in the aftermath.

“Even though you may not know anyone who was directly involved in the events of 9-11, you know someone who knows someone who was directly involved,” Deardorff said. “So even though you are not involved, you always know someone who was involved.”