Every year since 2001, September 11 has been a day to remember the victims of the worst terrorist attack in American history. Across the country, ceremonies and educational programs remind us all of the impact the tragedy had on families, communities, and the American way of life.
But now, sixteen years after the attacks, remembrance efforts are more important than ever.
Today’s college students were mostly born between 1995 and 2000. Some Elon freshmen were only two years old at the time of the attack, meaning that a sizable portion of the student population has no memory of the events of September 11, 2001.
“Everyone knows exactly where they were when they found out, and I don't have that,” said sophomore Maeve Riley, who lives less than an hour outside of New York City. “So, I am missing out on this moment in time where everything stops, and I don't experience that.”
Riley isn’t alone. Thousands of Elon students born in the late 90s have fading memories of that fall morning in 2001, and some have no memories at all.
As the time between the present day and 2001 grows longer, some see a renewed importance in remembrance.
“9/11 has defined our country in the modern age,” said SGA cultural chair Michael Kaether. “Although it was sixteen years ago, it should feel and it should continue to feel like it was yesterday.”
Elon’s Student Government association lines Young Commons with flags every year on 9/11. They have always served as a reminder of the lives lost and the way that day changed the course of American history.
“Not only does putting all of the flags out on the lawn symbolize the remembrance of the event,” said Kaether, “but it also symbolizes how america has persevered, how we've grown stronger in the aftermath of such an egregious attack. And it shows how even though America was beaten that day we've come back stronger to face these events in the future.”