Letters to the Editor: Students Voice Emotions Surrounding Sept. 11

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My father was at work as usual on the 70th floor of the south tower of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11. He walked down those 70 flights of stairs with his co-workers, and he witnessed the firefighters running up the stairs while he was on his way down. To this day, that thought still stirs up an immense amount of emotion in him.

As UC Berkeley student from New Jersey, all I ask of the UC Berkeley student body today is that they take into consideration that there could be, walking among you, a person like me who almost lost a parent or another family member on that day.

I still carry the feeling of terror and panic I experienced during the time when I didn't know if my father was still alive. It didn't happen in your backyard, but it still affected every American. Just remember today how lucky we are to be here and to be able to feel anything at all. We will all remember the same day no matter what color ribbon we wear.

Courtney Brown

UC Berkeley student

Sept. 11 means different things for different people. As a New York area native, the calm, almost bucolic world in which I had grown up was transformed into one of fear. I thank whatever force that is out there that none of my family or friends were lost. But the fear that instilled itself in my family that day made its way to me 3,000 miles away.

I fly out of Newark International Airport on a regular basis to come back to Berkeley. Had it been a few weeks earlier, it might have been my father on the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania; two months later, it could have been my mother and sister. I could have lost everything I hold dear, and that realization has deeply affected me.

New York's communities have changed how they react to fear. They have banded together and turned that fear into patriotism. Nearly everywhere there is a flag; a reminder of what was lost, and what remains.

We all lost something on Sept. 11, 2001. As survivors, it is our responsibility to take the fear, grief, sorrow and anger, and turn it into something beautiful: the American spirit.

Vidya Mandiyan

UC Berkeley student

UC Berkeley has a proud history of political activism. Today, however, is not about politics. Today is about coming together as a community and grieving for those whom we have lost. Today is about taking a break to reflect on the world we live in and how we can affect change to make it a better place.

Much as the events of Sept. 11 unified our nation, we can use the events of this day to unite our campus. By committing ourselves to creating a more tolerant atmosphere on campus, we can memorialize Sept. 11 in a way that will leave a lasting legacy.

As we focus on changing our campus, we cannot forget the larger role we play. In the coming months, people will look to our campus for leadership and, as UC Berkeley students, we will once again have the potential to affect change. The world will see that despite our strong differences of opinion, we are still able to treat each other with tolerance and respect. Such tolerance and respect will send a very powerful message about the capacity of human beings to live together in peace.

Jesse Gabriel

ASUC president

Coming to UC Berkeley from Massachusetts, the events that unfolded before me were images coming from my backyard. New York is a simple four-hour drive from my home. Boston's Logan Airport, where two of the planes took off from, is the airport of choice whenever I travel between Berkeley and Boston. The hijackers' victims were from the surrounding towns of my home.

I find it really eerie and almost a bit surreal that it's already been one year. Though many things in our daily lives have changed, some things haven't. The latest debate over the ribbons, the news that hate mail was being sent to public figures and even the letters I read in the Daily Cal have proven to me that we are still very divided about how we should react. We are fighting over someone else's opinions and perspectives that we don't necessarily have the right to change.

Sept. 11, 2001 was a tragic day for this country and I hope that on this day, precisely one year after this horrible event, we can put our petty differences aside and focus our energy on remembrance.

Garett Ng

UC Berkeley student

It's been a year since the Sept. 11 attacks and many peoples' lives were changed by that day. I reflect and I feel sympathy for not only those who died in the World Trade Center and on the planes that crashed, but also for the people who have had to suffer unnecessarily since then.

I am aware of many of the shameful restrictions placed civil liberties in the name of "national security." Unfortunately, one year later, many of these wrongs have not been corrected.

It is sad that this is overlooked in the surge of "patriotism." In times of national crisis, the United States should not be giving up the basic freedoms and rights it was founded upon and create a world that is no longer "America."

Lotus Yu

UC Berkeley student

America, today, will be a tapestry woven in red, white and blue-but what of the grey? The grey of the smoke-filled air when the two planes sliced the two towers like a pair of dull axes, the grey of the dusty droplets of wax left over from vigils held the night of Sept. 11, 2001, the grey of the debris that blanketed South Manhattan, and the grey of the ashes of the victims, the people, the heroes.

We need to remember the grey we saw and the grey we still need to see. The world does not spin on an axis that so clearly defines a line between black and white, good and evil, us and them. The people who perished in the Twin Towers represent not only the victims of terrorism against democracy, but of the countless individuals and families across the globe that have been destroyed by the on-going struggle of power politics.

We need to stop pointing fingers and start acting upon the principles that we preach, that everyone has the right to life and liberty. Today, I hope we remember not just the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks, but also those who have since long ago been walking the streets in fear.

Kalina Wong

UC Berkeley student


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