OPINION: We must never forget 9/11

Students, community reflect on how they remember 9/11


No matter where you were or if you were born yet, all Americans stand united in their remembrance of 9/11.

ISABELLE BUSCH, Evergreen reporter, columnist

Around the world, if you are my age or younger, you did not exist when 9/11 shook America. 

I was not born when the planes struck the twin towers. I was not watching when first responders rushed in to save those in need. I was not there to mourn when they did not come home.

But I remember. 

Audrey Ulman, sophomore biological sciences major, mentioned how her family members have told her stories and emphasized that they remember exactly where they were when the towers fell. 

“Hearing stories, and then also growing up and having to watch those videos in class, I realize how that really has incorporated itself into our generation,” Ulman said. “I feel like our generation’s a lot more cautious because of it.”

Maria Hoyt, Command Sgt. Maj. in the WSU Army ROTC, said her parents have similar crystal-clear memories of the tragedy.

“They literally said that it was surreal, like it felt like it was a movie,” Hoyt said. “Seeing the pictures of ashes and the people being carried out of the buildings just didn’t feel like it was actually happening.”

Senior accounting major Gerard Holeman mentioned how his high school English teacher was near the towers on that fateful day.

“She was across the way when the planes hit, and she just kind of saw it all from a distance,” Holeman said. “All she remembers is a bunch of smoke coming up from where the buildings were.”

One of my middle school teachers was in the towers during the attacks. I will never forget his recounts of evacuating his coworkers amid the haunting horror of terrorism.

Although neither I nor these members of the WSU community have firsthand memories of that day, we are connected to 9/11 through our family, friends and fellow Americans. Abraham Hernandez recounted his experience.

“Personally, it didn’t affect me, but I know how it affected other people,” he said. “It’s brought a lot of pain to a lot of people, and I can understand that pain.”

Hernandez also reflected on the international consequences of 9/11 and how it impacted him before his life began.

“The world changed because of it, not just in the US,” Hernandez said, mentioning the U.S. retaliation and the war in Iraq.

“I’m part of the military, the Army, and that really affected the outcome of my life,” Hernandez said. “Maybe or maybe not I’ll go over there, and I have to fight for the American people.”

One year into his service, Hernandez admitted that 9/11 was not the deciding factor in his joining the Army, but he did take it into consideration. Hoyt says for her, the call to service is something that reaches far beyond that day.

“Being in the military and ROTC is something that challenges me to do better and help people,” Hoyt said.

When asked how best to honor those lost on 9/11, Hoyt explained what she does on that day each year.

“I take the day as remembrance of what happened to those who came before me,” Hoyt said. “What’s most important to remember about that day is all of the thousands of lives that were lost, and especially those who had families who they weren’t able to come home to.”

Hoyt also recommended a personal way to acknowledge the significance of 9/11: thank a service member.

“At the end of the day, we are part of a very small population of people who are protecting the greater good,” she said.

Although thanking an active member or a veteran may seem a simple gesture or even one that feels awkward if you do not know the service member, Hoyt explained that it is exactly the opposite.

“I personally get really excited when people say that to me,” Hoyt said, with a glowing smile and a laugh. “I just think that it’s a really sweet way that people recognize service members, and what we do.”

To support those who lost family members to the 9/11 attacks, you can donate to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, whose mission is to ensure future generations never forget. You can also post on social media to spread the word and recognize that though 9/11 happened more than two decades ago, its impacts are just as significant today.