With the events of Sept. 11 a half a
year behind us, and the war on terrorism expanding, The TCU Magazine asked
nine students to talk about how the most iunfamous day of their generation
has changed their lives.
By Rick Waters '95
will refer to it by calendar date -- 9-11. Just two small words to describe
the day America froze into a collective gasp of disbelief.
later the campus seems, well, normal. At least on the surface, but not
if normal means Sept. 10. Many things have changed. Lectures on Islam
are given monthly at the bookstore. Student enrollment in world religion
classes is at an all-time high. Volunteer efforts have drawn strong community
support. Class discussions have shifted focus.
perceptions are changing, minds are searching to make sense of what seems
students we picked do not represent the entire student body, but each,
in his or her way, expressed attitudes that cut across demographics: a
greater appreciation for their blessings, a determination to follow their
ambitions and a hope for a more understanding world.
first time in my generation the world stood still," said Chelsea Hudson,
20, a political science junior from Plano.
body president, Hudson is used to rallying her classmates. Shortly after
the second tower fell, she helped gather 300 people for a campus prayer
vigil. A semester later, Hudson said the campus is still conscious of
9-11 but is less emotional.
referenced as much now as it was the weeks after it happened," said Hudson,
who adds that for some, a fresh semester has helped them move on. "If
you keep referencing it, I feel you're not cleansing it out of your system.
I don't want to experience it every day."
relations senior Allyson Cross feels differently. She said she needs the
"I go to
sleep with CNN on every night. While some people had to turn it off eventually,
I just want more information," said the 21-year-old from Brentwood, Tenn.
She was invested.
Her father, a Washington, D.C.-based lobbyist, was due at the Pentagon
that morning, but he rescheduled his appointment. It was several hours
before Cross learned he was unharmed, and not knowing impacted her sense
like a safe place doesn't seem so safe anymore. You tend to question everything,"
She is still
afraid to fly. At Thanksgiving, she elected to make a 12-hour drive each
way to be with her family.
I think about what they could be planning," she said. "When I see an Army
helicopter or F-16 fly over, I wonder."
isn't fearful. She's had too much work to do. The 22-year-old news-editorial
senior from Waco spent the semester in Washington, D.C. as an intern for
The Dallas Morning News and heads the TCU Daily Skiff as
editor this spring.
"It was an
exciting time to be a journalist. It was exciting to cover events and
press conferences that were history in the making," she said.
a graduate student at Brite Divinity School, thinks about the world her
children will inherit. "Because I have a child and am expecting another
in May, I think about the long-term ramifications," she said, explaining
that her son now builds Lego towers and knocks them down saying, "The
airplane did it. The bad people did it."
In her ministerial
work with high school students, Barton has seen an increase in faith-based
thinking as youth try to sort out the issues of 9-11.
having to think deeper about what it means to be a Christian, what it
means to believe in God," she said.
22, a religion senior from Waco, has become the resident expert on the
Taliban among his fraternity brothers, who used to wonder about his interest
in religion. Now they ask him about the research on human rights violations
against women in the Middle East he did while serving as an intern for
the World Federalist Association last year.
"I had been
reading about how anti-American they are. They despise everything we do
as Americans," he said. "While our perspective as Americans is to pursue
wealth, health and success, their perspective is to focus on community
and their religion."
students Raquel Torres and Tahira Hussain are encouraged by their peers'
expanded interests, but it can be daunting to be expected to speak for
an entire religion or region of the world. Often, they are the only people
in their classes who have lived outside the United States.
that I'm not from here, and people are much more aware of my presence
now," said Hussain, a 20-year-old political science junior who is an American
citizen but grew up in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. "In the beginning,
it was overwhelming with so many people wanting to ask me questions about
who is Muslim, said campus mentors helped her see the attention as a way
to promote understanding. "This is a chance to change some misconceptions,"
e-business senior from Cali, Colombia, and president of the International
Students Association, said growing up in Colombia prepared her for the
shock of terrorism better than Americans.
like this has ever happened to the young people here in America and at
TCU, and it was just Earth-shattering," she said. "I am from a place where
terrorism is part of life every day. And it's tragic. But life goes on.
stopped that day."
A new non-profit
entrepreneurial venture was what stopped for 23-year-old e-business senior
Steven Lewis, of Anchorage, Alaska.
economy worsened after 9-11, all the nonprofit monies dried up, and the
fund-raising aspect was sidetracked," said Lewis, president of Alpha Phi
Alpha fraternity. Eternally optimistic, he insists his worldview hasn't
been dented -- he's already launched a new for-profit venture with six fraternity
insisted that while attitudes have changed, plans haven't.
an advertising-public relations senior from Liberty, Mo., and president
of the Interfraternity Council, will serve an internship at a PR firm
in New York this summer. His sense of patriotism has flourished since
Sept. 11 and he's looking forward to visiting Ground Zero.
it's given me an opportunity to really look at the way I feel about everything
I do, allows me to not take things for granted," he said. "I know I feel
a lot more pride in my country. It's good to see new light shed on patriotism,
and how lucky we are, how cool it is to be an American."
though, that the impact of Sept. 11 will reverberate politically, economically
and socially for years. Among the points of debate: Should we be fighting
a war against terrorism?
"It had to
be declared, someone had to say it," he said. "Being against terror is
a no-brainer because it's about being against killing innocent people.
But to say either you're for us or against us, that's kind of a bold statement."
Colombian student, noted that the general opinion of President Bush during
the election was that he was weak on foreign policy. "He was going to
focus on America and what America needs to do, not get involved in conflicts
that are not ours," she said. "And all of a sudden the conflicts became
ours. So that's sort of an irony."
But she knows
terrorism is "... an idea. It is a way of life," complicated by poverty,
hunger and inequality.
on terrorism can only be fought through education," she said. "The people
in Afghanistan were educated that the West was evil. Now it's about who
gets there to educate them first."
the religion senior from Waco, agreed that education is key. "There are
military actions we can do to prevent it, but we wind up enticing more
of them to be terrorists."
an international group should rebuild Afghanistan, but construct it "the
way they want, not the way we want."
It is difficult
for Barton, the divinity student, and Hudson, the student body president,
to fault President Bush. They agree that he is in an unenviable predicament -- use
force and be criticized internationally or show restraint and hear backlash
event, people didn't know what to do," Barton said. "We needed a strong
leader to make a decision, and he did that."
"I pray for [U.S. leaders] because they're only human, but they're making
decisions that will influence the course of history."
not sure a war against terrorism is one America can ultimately win, but
thinks it's a war that the country should be in. "Former Sen. George Mitchell
spoke on campus after the attacks, and he's someone that has always advocated
peace," she said. "But he felt we had to go to war because there was no
alternative, and I guess that's how I feel too."
father was to be at the Pentagon, says America should be committed for
the families of the victims. "I challenge anybody who says we shouldn't
be involved in a war on terrorism to look a person who lost somebody at
the World Trade Center in the face and say we shouldn't," she said.
the Muslim American who grew up in the Middle East, said there is no clear
culprit to fight. "That's why it's terrorism. It's faceless. Terrorism
is not claimed by one nation or one religion. It's hatred, and that's
for her generation, DeLoach believes, is to learn not to fear, but to
seek answers. "It is a challenge to people of my age on down to educate
themselves and learn the skill of conflict resolution."
that attitude. She hopes the day won't be shoved into the forgotten past.
thing that could happen would be that people Ôget over' it," she said.
"Moving on is great, but getting over it or dismissing it, then the lesson
would be lost and all those lives lost in vain."