This column was originally going to be a comparison between the feelings of the older generation who experienced Pearl Harbor and those of the college generation who experienced Sept. 11. After interviewing a few people, I realized there was a different story to be told. As college students, we have a lot to say about what goes on in this world, and it’s more important to share those views than others right now. This way, we all know where we stand on the issues.
The people I interviewed surprised me. I thought most students at this university couldn’t care less about current events or foreign policy; that collectively, the student body was well aware of Sept. 11 but pretty much ignored any other national issues. Out of the eight people interviewed, four females and four males, six had more than enough to say about the attacks, their aftermath and the United States as a whole.
When asked where she was that day and how she found out, senior Kathy Pierre had an interesting story to tell. She was in her car, running errands in anticipation of a trip to Spain Sept. 12. Her first reaction to the news was one of disappointment that her trip was on hold, until she found out what really happened.
She waited six days for a flight to become available out of Miami. During her wait, she went to a club with friends where popular Miami DJ, Kalid, told the crowd that as a Muslim, he could attest to the fact that not all Muslims have the same agenda, that the majority are peaceful people. She said it made her rethink her initial blaming of Muslims in general. On her trip to Europe she saw how the rest of the world reacted to the attacks and took much from it. She said during the interview, “Our shield of ignorance is down. We have to start acting like we’re a part of the world. They (other countries) all know us, but we don’t know them.”
Allison Lombardi, a sophomore, found out through a phone call from her dad. Her prevailing message during the interview was that, “The United States has a pretty screwed-up view of justice.” She believes that wanting to retaliate against Osama bin Laden is understandable, but for our country to act as if we are the hands of justice that will punish all evildoers is wrong; we don’t speak for the rest of the world. She also pointed out that for a country that teaches cultural relativism and tolerance to even its kindergartners, we care very little about what really happens to other people in the world until it directly affects our interests.
Tiffany Conklin, Lisa Bunofsky and Robert Evans, all sophomores, pointed out that patriotism is in a pretty pathetic state when it takes a tragedy of this magnitude to make people buy American flags.
Billy Griffin, a freshman, said he felt that the patriotism was fake, and that, “People were only patriotic for as long as it was considered fashionable.” He also felt that, “The United States was partly to blame for the attacks. Our own foreign policy has resulted in too much grief for other countries. They were bound to retaliate someday.”
Each person I spoke with was greatly shocked and saddened by Sept. 11 and spoke of the loss of life, but also, each person recognized the need for America to move on. The message I took away from these interviews is that, the United States needs to learn from Sept. 11 and use it not as an excuse to justify war, but to better itself, not only as a nation of people, but a nation in the global community. It gives you something to think about.
Rachael Scialabba is a junior majoring in political science.