Aboard the ARC
Remembering Those
  We Lost




Remembering September 11, and the Aftermath
By Alex Sachare

America lost its innocence at 8:48 a.m. on September 11, 2001.

Such an act of terrorism could never happen here. It was something that took place in Beirut and Belfast, Tel Aviv and Indonesia. We watched it on television and in movies, read about it in newspapers and in novels. We knew it happened, but not here.

On September 11, it did happen here, in the United States of America, the place where people from all over the world have come for centuries when they wanted to escape tyranny and oppression, when they wanted to live in peace and pray to God in the manner of their choosing, when they wanted a better life for themselves and their children.

Suddenly, on a bright Tuesday morning, that sense of security and safety and insulation that we took for granted was shattered, replaced by feelings of horror and pain, sorrow and confusion, anger and resolve.

It was a nightmare, some said. Perhaps it was an awakening from a dream.

The horrific images of September 11 will stay with us forever. So, too, should the positive images of the aftermath. Remember the faces of the volunteers who flocked to lower Manhattan — so many members of the Columbia community among their numbers — to help in whatever way possible, and the countless others who gave money, donated blood, collected food or supplies or just helped one another through the crisis. Think of the monumental bravery of the men and women of the New York City fire and police departments, and other rescue workers, who rushed into those burning buildings to help others get out.

Let us never forget that an estimated 25,000 people escaped to safety due, in large measure, to their efforts. And remember, too, the inspired and inspiring leadership provided by Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a New Yorker who rose to the challenge when his city, and the country, needed him most.

Remember the act, certainly, but remember the response as well. Remember the way everyday people came together, sacrificed their creature comforts and made a difference. One rescue worker, his face masked by soot and sweat, held in front of a TV camera a card his child had given him before he left home that morning to return to the WTC site: "We like what you're doing, Dad, but we want you to come home." He tells his child he'll be home that night, then turns and goes back to the task of sifting through the rubble, hoping against overwhelming odds to find someone still alive. Remember his selfless dedication, and that of so many others like him.

I can tell you exactly where I was on November 23, 1963, or on April 23, 1970, the day my father died. People a bit older than me can do the same with December 7, 1941, even though nearly 60 years have passed since then. Some things you don't forget. We will now remember September 11, 2001, the same way. We also should remember the way people responded in the days and weeks that followed.

We at Columbia College Today, and all of us in the Columbia College Alumni Office, send our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of victims of the September 11 tragedy.


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