Featured Reflections...

Wednesday, Sep. 14, 2011 at 4:43 pm
This great world
My beloved brother (in-law) Thomas Reinig was killed in the North Tower.

I read in the week leading up to the 10th anniversary “Let the Great World Spin”, the “9/11” novel the incoming class was asked to read. This led me to also view the Philippe Petit documentary “Man on Wire”. Beautiful images of Petit and the towers coupled with the horrific footage of the buildings’ collapse running over and over on TV that week. These images combined with my own (some follow) illustrate what I have learned – this great world spins.

--The view of the newly built towers from a particular tree, in my childhood backyard.
--My youngest brother collapsing the morning of 9/11 and his coworker an ex-Mr. Cuba picking him up in his arms.
--A BC Law professor crying in my office. Me, a touchstone to the tragedy…
--A neighbor desperate “to do something” vacuuming my sister’s home.
-The look on the faces of the hundreds of high school Delbarton-boys lining the road as we exited the memorial service held in their chapel.
-- Photos of my nephew (one of the two who lost their father) at his job site, a skyscraper under construction in Dubai.
-The memorial tattoos on my nephew’s ankles.
--The (strange-to-me) faces of those elated by the death of Bin Laden.
--My sister making a rubbed imprint of Tom’s name at the memorial site with her new husband by her side.
--Children in Kabul barefoot and in rags smiling brightly for my brother’s camera.
--The overwhelmingly proud look on my nephew’s face as he holds his 2-year old daughter.
By: Ann Fattori
Information Technology Services
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Friday, Feb. 3, 2012 at 12:40 pm
The power of an overarching narrative
I started college in the early 1990s, an era in which the US seemed to be cut adrift from the great ideological narratives of previous generations. The Cold War had defined our culture and politics for fifty years by the time the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, it was clear that the Cold War era had definitively ended. The 1990s were a search for America's place in the world, and indeed for any way to describe what President George H.W. Bush called a "New World Order." Humanitarian interventions became the focus of U.S. foreign policy and military activities, but our national attention was focused on the economic and technology boom that brought waves of new prosperity to this country.

When 9/11 happened, that search for a national narrative to describe our place in the world disappeared immediately. Suddenly the new dispensation broke into view: we lived in an era of transnational terrorism, and ours was to be a multi-generational global war against terror. It was my first view of the mixture of hysteria, courage, xenophobia, resolve, demagoguery and true leadership that previous generations knew when faced with an amorphous but seemingly implacable existential foe. Priorities were rearranged, frames of reference were adjusted, foundations built anew -- but in inconsistent and sometimes wrongheaded ways.

The decade since 9/11 has been a challenging time to think clearly about the world, and a polarizing time to be politically engaged. If I have learned anything in this time, it’s that grand narratives are convenient but dangerous as organizing forces for our own thoughts and for our national politics. If we are to successfully make our way into the decades ahead, we will need a subtler politics that employs a more nuanced understanding of the world and our proper role in it as individuals and as a nation.
By: Erik Owens
Associate Director, Boisi Center; Adj. Asst. Prof. of Theology & International Studies
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Friday, Sep. 2, 2011 at 11:39 am
This American Life
“It is too soon to say,” Zhou Enlai is famously reported to have replied in 1971 when asked his views on the French Revolution. Zhou, it’s now understood, was responding to a question about the 1968 student riots in Paris; but I’m with the agile old diplomat in either case. All I know so far is this. 1) We haven’t made American Muslims the enemy. 2) We’ve kept a second disaster at bay. 3) We’ve (ultimately) played hell with our enemies on their home ground. And we’ve done this in spite of a tragically wasteful Iraq adventure, a limping economy, our dilatory allies in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and poisonous domestic politics. Comfortingly, this seems the usual American narrative, our rising from ignorance and shock to manage some kind of zig-zaggy way back from the cliff edge and to the 13th Amendment, the deck of the USS Missouri, the Moon.
By: Ben Birnbaum
Executive Director, Office of Marketing Communications; Special Assistant to the President
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Thursday, Sep. 8, 2011 at 4:40 pm
The Opposite of Invincible
September 11, 2001 was the first time in my life that I discovered I wasn't invincible. It was the first time I felt a deep, unnerving fear, that grew inside as I truly began to comprehend the magnitude of devastation that this would leave markedly on our country's history, our world's history, and even more so in our memories.
Like every other 13 year old kid, I didn't have a care in the world, and I had never truly felt an undeniable 'fear' in my life; That may sound naive, lucky most would say, and for damn sure privileged. And you'd be right! I was fortunate enough to grow up in a stable household, in a sleepy, little beach town, where I was never subjected to the hardships that laid outside my little bubble.
My 8th grade biology teacher turned the radio up. I couldn't fully understand why my teachers were walking around in shock; All over a plane crash? I had heard of other planes crashing before, what was different about this one? In second period, my english teacher left the image of the second plane hitting the tower up on his computer screen. I remember everything slowly falling into place as I ran to the school office, knowing that my Dad was flying to New York that morning.
His flight was at 9:30am out of Logan - It was cancelled.
I watched the power plant that sat across the bay from my bedroom window, closely searching for any suspicious activity; It was on "high alert", whatever that's supposed to mean. I silently made a plan to move to Australia because they never started any wars there...

So what have I learned since 9/11?

I am not invincible; No one is. Anything could happen at any moment, and I have absolutely zero control over it- Which is something I still struggle to accept. But I also learned that because of that, people find love, kindness, passion, strength and determination within themselves that might never have been possible, if they didn't live out every moment to it's fullest.
By: Kristyn Roth
Marketing Coordinator, CSOM, Class of 2010
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Wednesday, Sep. 7, 2011 at 9:53 pm
When will 9/11 become history?
I read an article recently where a high school student was struck by the fact that her history books said almost nothing about 9/11. I was struck by how unsurprised I was by that. I don't think historians have really processed what that day has meant not only for the country, but for the psychology of the country. "Never Forget" comes with a cost: perspective. Terms like the "9/11 Generation" get tossed about to label those who were kids when it happened, and I think that is accurate. I had trouble processing it at 26, and I still look at my life in halves: as it was before and how it has been since. I can't even imagine what it has been like to grow up in the last ten years.

It was a perfect day. A top-ten day. The torrential downpours the night before left nothing but a cloudless sky. The most rediculous thing was that, as events unfolded before my eyes, it never occurred to me it could get worse. One plane hit one tower. Two planes couldn't possibly hit! As you drive down the New Jersey Turnpike, you can see three enormous structures over the Palisades: the Empire State Building and the towers. I watched them burn from the car, watched the south tower fall in my rearview mirror. The most surreal moment was seeing one burning tower and thinking how weird the skyline would look from now on. It really never crossed my mind that it would meet the same fate.

It took about five years before I stopped feeling like it had happened yesterday. But who can tell they are post-traumatic when everyone around them is as well? For my part, I'm going to raise my son to live without fear and paranoia, and to trust the good in people again. I hope that he has a "pre-9/11" kind of life, like the one I remember. I hope that he reads an insightful analysis of it in his history book, takes the test, and files it away.
By: Kimberly
A&S 1997
Recommended 1034 times. Recommend
Sunday, Sep. 11, 2011 at 5:56 pm
Life Lessons from 9/11 - A Vision of Hope Rising From the Ashes of Destruction
As a specialist in Islamic Studies and Wahhabism, September 11 marked a pivotal moment in my career. I learned of the tremendous responsibility to have the audacity to reach out and embrace, to educate, and to dare to hope that we will all find the courage to assure that another 9/11 will never occur - not because of anyone's military power, but because we have learned the tragic cost of hatred and warfare. We cannot bring back the dead. But we can honor their lives and memories by choosing to live with purpose and meaning.

All of us must learn to listen to each other so that ignorance, hatred and misunderstanding might end.

We must remember that we are all human and are all deserving of dignity, respect, and human rights, including the right to life.

Difference provides an opportunity for experiencing something new that may enrich us in ways we cannot imagine if we do not try.

Rather than fearing what we do not know or understand, we must have the courage to seek knowledge, meet people, and find our own answers.

Only then will we learn to set aside hatred, prejudice and fear in favor of love, compassion, and understanding - the path to peace.
By: Natana J. DeLong-Bas
Department of Theology
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Sunday, Sep. 4, 2011 at 9:21 pm
Strengthening Hope
The fragility of hope, the insidious of fear of “the other,” and the profoundness of Agustin’s wisdom when he admonished his readers to recognize self-reliance as the most implacable of our enemies, each is clearer to me as I reflect on 9/11.  It brings a greater appreciation of Vaclav Havel’s observation that hope “is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense regardless how it turns out.”  In that spirit may 9/11 bring us a greater revulsion of violence and  our reactions to it strengthen hope.
By: Cutberto Garza
Provost, Dean of Faculties
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Sunday, Sep. 11, 2011 at 12:41 am
Sorrow, Love, and Togetherness
I left my home on Cape Cod the morning of 9/11/01 heading towards work at Boston College. While listening to the radio, WBZ reported a plane had hit the World Trade Center and all I could think of was what a terrible accident. Then when the second plane hit you knew it was no accident. I pulled off to the side of the road in disbelieve as two Jets flew overhead, I thought to myself we must be at war. Later that day I found out they were called from Otis Air Force Base. As I reached my office everyone was gathered together in shock. As the day went on a lot of the employees went around campus to see if there was some way we could help. BC is a wonderful place to work. There was a Mass held in Conte and it very well attended by students, faculty, staff and many people from the local neighborhoods. The BC Police Department had set up phone lines for any students or anyone on campus to get in touch with loved ones in New York.

What I learned that day was BC is a wonderful Family Community who will always go the extra mile to help anyone in need. Also I learned never to take life for granted and never doubt the power of prayer. God Bless America.
By: Ruth Chobit
Class of 1080 and a BC Employee for 49 years
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Sunday, Sep. 11, 2011 at 2:16 am
The American Dream
Like many other Americans, I thought that the world had changed on September 11, 2001.  Ten years later I have learned that change comes slowly, if at all.  I remember speaking at BC right after the horror and saying that Osama bin Laden, for all his evil, had at least brought us together.  It turns out, however, that we are as divided as ever, if not more so.  How truly and terribly sad this is.  The event ten years ago was cosmic.  Today's politics are petty and shallow.  We should have been inspired by great evil to do great good.  Instead we  have lost a sense of the American dream.  I still have faith in the American people and believe that we will recover our sense of purpose.    I just wish we had never lost it.
By: Alan Wolfe
Prof. of Political Science and Director, Boisi Center for Religion & American Public Life
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Thursday, Sep. 8, 2011 at 3:48 pm
When September 11th happened, I was home in China. I was getting ready for bed when I heard a loud crash in the kitchen. My mother was standing in the kitchen surrounded by my aunt and my grandparents. She looked nervous, really nervous. I could see fear in her eyes. My family quickly ushered me back to my room, but I snuck down to listen on the stairs. My father was working in the North Tower at the time, and no one knew if he was safe or not. We tried calling, but all we could do was wait. I remember sitting there, digging through my memory, trying to remember the last thing I said to my father. It was a scary moment in my life. It was in that moment I recognized the fragile and fleeting nature of life. It was in that moment I realized that I should treasure every minute I spend with my family, my friends, and my loved ones. Now, as a senior at BC, as cliche as it may sound, I try to live every minute of my life to the fullest, remembering every detail and savoring every moment.
By: Xinyu Pan
A&S 2012
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Wednesday, Sep. 7, 2011 at 11:49 pm
On September 11, 2011 I will be 72, and for the past 10 years I have spent more time than usual thinking about the significance of that date, which up until 2001 was not that much. I remember writing to a local newspaper on the first anniversary that I was concerned that our country would absorb all the wrong lessons from that fateful event, and cause us to overplay the situation into one that would hurt us for years to come. Unfortunately, that is just what has happened. We have extended ourselves militarily to a point that is not only unmanageable and terribly costly, but also detrimental to our own current well being. As we suffer the pangs of a very difficult economic situation, we continue to pour our treasure into two Middle Eastern countries that will never result in a solution that either helps them or us. Beyond that we seem to have lost the spirit and meaning of why we became a democratic republic with the determination to, as the preamble to our Constitution states, "provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity", At 72, you tend to think a bit more about posterity and can only hope we pull out of this decline and get back to insuring a better life for all for years to come.
By: Hugh Cavanaugh
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Thursday, Sep. 8, 2011 at 9:03 pm
As the parent of a current member of the class of 2015, and the son of a member of the class of 1951, I would like to think that, as each generation reflects on the horrors of history, we will all do what we can to prevent such horrors in the future. May we all use our education and spiritual formation to do everything we can to "light the world" with hope, and make the effort to understand each other and to educate all in what is the best of human nature. 9/11 showed the worst of human nature but brought out the best in all of us in response to that tragedy. Let us never forget the spirit which lifted all after that event.
By: Rick Roche
CEO/Owner:Roche Bros. Supermarkets, 1981
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Friday, Sep. 2, 2011 at 5:33 pm
Still Struggling
I spent a couple of days this summer in Gettysburg. My kids hadn't been there before. Their dad is a Civil War historian. It was a perfect stopping-off place amid a long family vacation up and down the East Coast. I was surprised at just how powerful we all found the experience. In particular, I was struck by the layers of memory and forgetting that played out on the battlefield and around town. 150 years on, it's hallowed ground, of course, but it remains deeply complicated and contested terrain as well.

That, more than anything, is what comes to mind when posed the question, “What have we learned?” We’re still in the early stages of making meaning out of that Tuesday morning’s heartbreak ten years ago. Words fail when I visit Ground Zero with my three sons, members of a generation whose lives seem haunted by one moment in their early childhood. My country, my home city of New York, my own sense of what matters most---all have been remade by 9/11. We all remember so much about that September day but I find myself in late summer 2011 still struggling through loss and pain toward understanding.
By: David Quigley
Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences
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Friday, Sep. 9, 2011 at 6:44 pm
9-11 remembrance
I was coming out of the PATH and was on the escalator. The first plane hit the tower I was in. I heard a loud noise and it was a noise that I had never heard before in the WTC. My senses told me that this was something very unusual to make that kind of noise. Everyone around me also sensed that it was something that we had never heard before. I then saw tremendous confusion as various officials started running all over the place. I knew I had to get out of the WTC and rushed to the nearest door - along with hundreds of other people. I got outside and then saw the second plane go right over my head and crash into the next tower. Everything seemed to be in slow motion. When the tower burst into flames, everyone started crying, screaming and running away from the area. I saw sights that I can never talk about - even to my family. These sights are burned into my brain.
My first instinct was to run away as fast as I could and get to my office which was 1 1/2 blocks south of the WTC. I got into work and everyone was as scared and numb as I was. Everybodys suspected terrorism but none of this was confirmed as of yet. We went about our daily morning procedures but were all in a state of shock - we were operating in a fog and a sense of this being a bad dream.
Our manager told us to leave and go home. Some of us stated to close down the markets (we were OTC traders). Some did not want to go out in the streets for fear of the unknown. Our windows did not face the WTC so we could not see the goings-on there. We could see people running in the streets. Bit by bit, our employees started to leave. When the two towers collapsed, there were only a few of us left in the office. My most vivid memory of this is the tremendous noise and the total darkness that engulfed the area. The outside was as dark as a moonless night. We waited until the darkness had lessened and then decided that it was time for us to lock up the office and leave.
We could not return to work for several weeks. All power had been cut off in the downtown area. When we could return, the images of the streets were that of a science fiction movie - dust everywhere, phone and power cables everywhere, glass broken. The dust had managed to get into the offices even though the windows had been shut. It reminded me of how moon dust was described.
Those days will stay with me always. I still get nervous when I see a low-flying plane. My life was changed forever.
By: John McCabe
Class of 1967 - College of Business Administration
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