USC Acquires Piece Of World Trade Center For Memorial
Although we’re amid a huge discussion on Syria, it’s important to take a moment today to reflect on the past. The truth is, 9/11 has shaped the lives of every person in the U.S.
Jennifer Ann Massey points out that many of us are affected in ways we don’t necessarily recognize: “I was going through security at an NFL game this weekend, and we were required to put the content of our purses into clear bags.” Most of the time, we think of the ominous body x-ray machines at the airport when we consider the changes implemented after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but security in America changed in a much more general sense. “All of a sudden we realized we’re not as safe as we thought we were,” she says.
Trending on Twitter today is #wherewereyou. Where were you when the footage of the first smoking tower was picked up by CNN? Where were you when the second plane hit? When did it hit you?
I was getting ready for school—Tuesday of the second week of 6th grade. It was a day like any other day, except I was at a brand new school, and I was energized with the possibilities. Like finding new friends, or finding someone whose lunch I could trade for my inevitable turkey sandwich. My Dad was making my lunch in the kitchen when he shouted, “Hey guys, a plane just crashed into a building!”
It’s funny how days like any other days have a way of becoming the days we remember for a lifetime.
It took a few minutes to get the details straight. I watched my parents calculate…twin towers, American Airlines, United Airlines, hijacked. Their faces fell with the gravity of the situation: attacked.
On the car ride to school, my Mom and I listened to the radio. The woman, who often treated listening to the news more like having a conversation, was silent. My first period class was cancelled, and a few hundred middle school students shuffled into our chapel, where we listened to our principal tell us that it was important that we were safe, and that we were together.
Not everyone at USC has a story like I do. Freshmen would have only been five or six years old when they got the news. Even at 10, it was difficult for me to understand the widespread emotional impact of an act of terrorism. Today, we are all still making sense of it.
I try to make sense of how an act of horrific proportions has the effect of making people’s spirits stronger.
“Terrorism does not discriminate. Neither ethnicity, nor gender, nor age, nor religious affiliation matter to it.” Massey said.
We weren’t attacked as men or women, of one faith or another, of one age or another. We weren’t attacked as Americans. We were attacked as human beings. The world felt this tragedy, and therefore all students at USC can relate to it.
Massey was determined to symbolize this unity: “Many USC students supported a memorial on campus to honor the legacy of 9/11 because it helps to ensure that their own generation, as well as future generations, will have a space to reflect upon the events of 9/11 and honor those who perished in the attacks.”
For Massey, bringing a memorial to Los Angeles is something she’s felt passionate about for a long time. Being in L.A., she explains, we can feel very separated from the events that happened on the east coast. Dr. Soni supported her vision at USC:
“More than 90 countries were represented in the deaths at the World Trade Center. Given that our campus is truly a global location, with 8000 international students from all over the world, we feel that USC is an appropriate place for the memorial.”
It wasn’t an easy process, but Jennifer and Dr. Soni encountered many helpful people along the way. First they spoke with Lee Ielpi, President of the 9/11 Families Association, who’s son died on 9/11. Lee connected them with Carl Scheetz from FDNY, who is responsible for the final distribution of the World Trade Center steel and other 9/11 relics. With the support and encouragement of USC administration and staff, the Department of Public Safety, and Facilities Management Services, Jennifer’s idea came to fruition and USC acquired the piece of steel.
According to Dr. Soni, the design of the monument is pending, but the World Trade Center steel will be the focus.
As for location, Jennifer says, “We would like it to stand at the site of our first responders on campus—either our fire department or DPS.” Since USC’s fire department is being remodeled this year, the monument will likely be erected near DPS headquarters on the west side of campus.
Jennifer would like the monument to stand not as a symbol of grief, but as a sign of encouragement: “I hope this remnant from the wreckage of 9/11 will not break our hearts, but rather open them up—to the fact that we are all the same.”
While the memorial may bring each of us back to different places in our lives, it will leave us with one impression: that we are all the same. In this way, a reminder of the past could help bring clarity to the future.
Details on the unveiling of the memorial are yet to come.