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ISSUE 118 VOL 1 PUBLISHED 9/17/2004

Forgetting too soon

By Executive Editors
Executive Editor

Friday, September 17, 2004

Most people who lived through September 11, 2001, declare it is a day they will never forget. So, why did last Saturdays third anniversary of the terrorist attacks go largely unnoticed by the St. Olaf community? There was no memorial displayed on campus to remember the 3,000 lives lost in the attacks. Students neglected to organize a candlelight vigil or a moment of reflection.

In fact, not only did students fail to participate in one of these remembrances, but many students forgot the day all together. Odds are if you were to have mentioned the passing of the anniversary to a friend, they would have replied: Oh that was yesterday? I completely forgot.

The reasons for forgetting are numerous. Maybe it was because the day fell on a Saturday, a day when students are busy attending events on and off campus. Maybe it is because the shock and horror of that day has begun to wane, especially for a community thats nestled into the security blanket of the Midwest.

Or perhaps, it is because we are in the midst of a closely contested presidential election and would rather focus on what divides us rather than what unites us.

None of these excuses will work, however. If we use any of them, it means that we have already forgotten what it means to remember, how we felt that day, how we grieved and how we stopped. It was remarkable how a country so caught up in the busyness and chaotic pace of life could in a moment just completely stop. St. Olaf was no different.

For the class of 2005, the day came during our first weeks on campus, away from our homes for the first time and suddenly part of a new and still unfamiliar community. Everyone can tell you where they were when they heard the news: religion class, eating breakfast in the Caf, brushing their teeth in a Kildhal bathroom.

After we heard, we did what everyone else in America did that day. We huddled around TV sets in dorm lounges or in friends rooms watching with watery eyes and disbelieving hearts.

It affected us all: Republicans and Democrats, Greens and Libertarians. For once it didnt matter on what side of an issue you stood. It didnt matter if you knew someone in one of those burning buildings or if your family and friends were all safe at home. This tragedy still reached you.

Its alarming to think that our community has decided we no longer need to stop. That we no longer need to reach out to those who think differently than us. That we shouldnt for just one day set those differences aside.

We are told that our campus is a divided place. Whether its over issues that we support or candidates that we back, we are always choosing sides. Over the course of this year there will be a number of debates and discussion forums to engage us. There will be plenty of opportunities to disagree and argue and trade words back and forth. But unfortunately there may not be another day, another occasion for us to unite. Lets hope that next time we dont pass up the chance.

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