For students and faculty members alike, every day of September seems to get harder as school gains momentum and the first real assignments are doled out. But for me, no day is harder than Sept. 11.
Having grown up in southwestern Connecticut, I knew many of those loved and lost in the attacks on that day in 2001, and I know the families and friends that survive them.
Every year when I wake up on 9/11, I can only somberly think of my friends’ parents, friends and other brave souls who died in such a gruesome, detestable act of terrorism.
Each year I also make what I know to be the worst phone call — the call to my best friend who lost her father on 9/11. When I pick up my phone to call her and hear her voice on the other line — thick with sorrow and the unbearable weight that comes with accepting and living with the aftermath of this tragedy —I know there is nothing I can possibly communicate to help.
Instead, every year, I pretend to be brave, despite the fact that I’m often choking back tears, to tell her that I love her very much and that I’m thinking of her that day.
Last 9/11, the first one I spent here at Georgetown, I couldn’t help but feel absent as my mind solemnly contemplated and remembered the events of that day and its effects, among the hustle and bustle of what seemed like just another average day on a busy college campus. But the fact of the matter is, it wasn’t just another day.
Both last year and this year, I cannot help but feel there is no room to properly function on this anniversary without devoting recognition to the attacks. I know the university observes Sept. 11 in certain ways — both last year and this year, students planted American flags on the front lawn and held a mass in remembrance — but I cannot help but feel this is insufficient.
I understand that, with the goal of moving forward, some find it counterintuitive to dedicate the whole day to reflecting on what has happened, but something more has to occur.
I don’t want to walk through campus hearing the same complaints about homework, getting no sleep and an overload of extracurriculars. I don’t want to attend class and feel that, even though the material being taught is important, no real substantive discussion is going on that day.
I want to hear support; I want to hear discussion; I want to hear something that makes me feel I’m not alone in remembering those loved and lost; and I want to do so vocally by hearing the experiences of others.
Just like that phone call, I know conversations cannot suddenly solve everything, but even a silent understanding of what each other is going through can make a world of difference. This is surely not a day where feeling alone helps anyone.
In the future, I hope Georgetown will find a way to more fully and substantively recognize 9/11. Celebrating Mass is surely a good start, but something all students can fully appreciate, like a campus-wide moment of silence or vigil, would go a long way in helping promote support and reflection within our community.
Three years ago, Georgetown recognized the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 by hosting an interfaith prayer vigil, a 5K remembrance run and academic panels. Although the 10-year anniversary marks an important date, it does not eclipse every other anniversary that passes, even as the years pile on.
I also recognize that the responsibility for these remembrances does not fall entirely upon the university and its administration. If student organizations held support groups, talks or even simple ceremonies, I think it would go a long way toward making the Hilltop feel more like home on a day where it feels one can find little solace.
Supporting our fellow Hoyas does not simply apply to the sports field or classroom. Reminding each other that, as a community, we are there for each other emotionally during a tragic time goes a long way.
Kit Clemente is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service. She is a deputy opinion editor and a member of the editorial board for The Hoya.