Lantern file photo
The morning of Sept. 11, 2001, began like any other. But for many, it has become a day frozen in time. For the first time classes have been in session at Ohio State on Sept. 11, and most on campus, including Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee, can still remember where they were and what they were doing 11 years ago.
“I remember that so vividly,” Gee said. “I remember exactly where I was. I was at Vanderbilt (University) at the time, I was giving a speech and someone came up and said the Twin Towers had been attacked and I went back to the campus immediately.”
“I was at home. My two boys were in about third and fourth grades. They came home for lunch every day. I didn’t know whether to let them watch it (on TV),” said Pat Wirthlin, mother of two OSU students.
“I was in eighth grade history class. I was upset because they canceled football practice. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized what happened,” said Wayne Eggleston, staff sergeant in the U.S. Army.
“I was the night shift supervisor the night before. I got off at 7 a.m. on the 11th. I was supposed to start a hostage negotiation conference that day. My wife came in and told me what happened … just in time to see the second plane go into the tower,” said Deputy Chief Richard Morman of Ohio State Police.
“I was younger. Probably eighth grade when it happened,” said Fabian Callaham, a fourth-year in pre-physical therapy.
Eleven years ago, terrorists attacked the United States when two hijacked airplanes struck the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, along with an attack on the Pentagon in Washington D.C. A third attack was thwarted by aircraft passengers who brought down a plane in Pennsylvania that had been overtaken by terrorists, killing everyone on board.
The U.S. lost nearly 3,000 lives that day. Eleven years later, many Americans can hardly believe it has been so long but they continue to move forward.
“You know that saying, you have to know where you’ve come from to know where you’re going,” said Callaham, who also served in the U.S. Army after high school and is still under active duty while finishing his bachelor’s degree.
Other students said they will never forget that day.
“It seems like it just happened. I remember exactly where I was when it happened, even though it happened 11 years ago,” said Kristen Boyd, a fourth-year in biology. “I think this is the something that I always remember.”
The OSU Security and Intelligence Club is hosting an event in honor of the anniversary. Due to the semester conversion, this year is the first time since the attack that OSU has had classes in session over the anniversary, and that students have had the opportunity to reflect together. The event will be held Tuesday evening at Browning Amphitheatre near Mirror Lake.
The events of Sept. 11 affected the country as a whole, but it also impacted individuals in different ways.
For Wirthlin, the attacks hit on a more personal level.
“We had a friend, a childhood friend, who died (in the WTC),” she said. Her friend was the father of three young children.
Eggleston, who fought in Afghanistan, said he’s seen the results of the attacks first hand.
“It’s part of my life now. I was there,” Eggleston said. “I’ve lost friends over there.”
On 9/11 Eggleston was an eighth-grade student upset that football practice was canceled. His father, who served in the Marine Corps, had a different reaction.
“Dad was really angry. Dad wanted to go kick some ass. Dad was pretty upset,” Eggleston said.
With his father’s history in the Marines and his grandfather’s service during World War II, Eggleston said he’s always wanted to serve his country.
“I was a freshman in high school when they invaded Iraq. I remember being jealous of everyone who got to be in the initial invasion,” said Eggleston, whose younger brother serves in the Marines as an embassy guard in Brazil.
Morman saw the impact of the Sept. 11 attacks at OSU.
“We went on 12-hour shifts until we knew what was going on,” he said. “Al-Qaida has said an attractive target would be a large outside stadium, so first thing you think of is football.”
On May 2, 2011, President Barack Obama announced that known terrorist Osama Bin Laden had been killed after SEAL Team 6 invaded his hideout in Pakistan. That night, OSU students jumped into Mirror Lake in celebration of the death of the Al-Qaida ringleader, but some didn’t see that as an end to the mission.
“Just because Bin Laden was eliminated doesn’t mean there isn’t still terrorism,” Morman said.
“It wasn’t over. It was like America thought the mission was over. The mission wasn’t over, it’s still not over,” he said.
But in the U.S., Wirthlin said she feels for those of Middle Eastern decent.
“(I feel) a big affinity for Arabs and Muslims living in the U.S. that had nothing to do with the attacks. I’m sure it’s uncomfortable for a lot of them,” she said.
While it’s difficult to find the bright side of a story filled with so much loss, Wirthlin tried to provide a light of positivity.
“It’s pretty amazing how people pull together. Any lines disappeared,” she said. “Whoever did it achieved a lot to bring us down. But it’d take a lot more than that.”
But Morman said he doesn’t believe things can be like they were before the attacks.
“I don’t think things will go back the way they were,” Morman said.
Gee said the attack was a “watershed moment” for the country.
“I think that we ought to recognize it from the point of view of those who were lost, but more importantly from the point of view that we all have the responsibility to support our efforts to remain free and safe,” Gee said. “I really do believe that.”