WITHIN THE FAMILY
Remembering September 11, and the
By Alex Sachare
America lost its innocence at 8:48 a.m. on September 11,
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.
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
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.
was a nightmare, some said. Perhaps it was an awakening from a
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.
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
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
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.