Perspectives a decade after

Discussions about the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks continued Tuesday in the Fireside lounge as a panel entitled “Ten Years After 9/11: Reflections on What the U.S. has Accomplished and Failed to do” was led by political science professor Paul Kubicek.

Panelist and international relations professor Peter Trumbore teaches a course called International Terrorism and said that student interest has been piqued because of what happened 10 years ago.

On Sept. 11, 2001, Trumbore was in his office getting ready for class at Clark University in Western Massachusetts, where he taught at the time. Had no idea about anything that was going on until his wife called and told him a plane had hit the World Trade Center.

Trumbore said that because he didn’t see the buildings come down as it happened, he never had an immediate sort of emotional experience of it happening live. He says he sees the events through the perspective of a scholar and said talks of 9/11 have been more relevant professionally.

He currently teaches courses on terrorism and international conflict, which he studied as an undergraduate in the 1980s and in graduate school. When the Oklahoma City bombing happened in 1995, colleagues came to Trumbore as the authority on the topic.

“(Oklahoma City) didn’t have the same kind of impact on people,” Trumbore said. “9/11 impacted people emotionally because so many people saw it. You couldn’t turn the TV to any channel and not see coverage.”

Trumbore deems 9/11 the “single worst terrorist event in the U.S.,” but said he has a somewhat unorthodox way of describing them because of his studies.

“It was a brilliant successful operation because of the way it captured the conversation — not because people were killed,” Trumbore said. “The topic of Islamism became and has remained at the forefront of people’s minds as a result of an event.”


Media Coverage

Garry Gilbert, director of OU’s journalism department, like Trumbore, agrees that the media portrayal played an important role in the mind of the terrorists.

“The coverage over the weekend should’ve been what we learned, who we are,” he said. “But instead, a lot of organizations focused on remembering and remembering empowers terrorists … we’re giving them the media attention they’re looking for.”

Gilbert was the Executive Editor of The Oakland Press when the attacks occurred and had already published the daily newspaper for the day.

“Our publisher came upstairs and asked if we could run a special edition,” said Gilbert of that morning. “From what I researched, the last time the paper had published one was when JFK was assassinated 38 years ago.”

Copies of the extra edition were printed and distributed for free to people on the streets of Pontiac and Oakland County.

Gilbert and editors at The Oakland Press chose to run photos that showed anguish and emotion rather than depict the gruesome reality.

“The Press is a community paper that has different standards,” he said. “We were given access to hundreds of graphic images, and there’s a fine line in choosing which one to use. We wanted to show the truth but not push the images in the face of the people.”


Moment of silence

Grey skies and a rain-filled day may have hampered the locale at Oakland University, but spirits prospered when students, staff and veterans gathered last Wednesday for the 10th anniversary of 9/11 Remembrance.

The stormy day issued last minute location changes to the Fireside Lounge at the Oakland Center, but even with the changes, a large crowd gathered, holding American flags and listening intently to the line-up of speakers discussing the effect the national tragedy created both locally and countrywide.

“The sky was crystal blue and the sun was high in the sky, we were still in the midst of celebrating the first week of the fall semester,” Mary Beth Snyder, Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, said, vividly recalling the fateful day ten years ago. “Those of us who were on campus that day knew at that point that the lives we had lived were about to change forever.”

Snyder aimed her speech at the positive changes that have affected campus, such as an increase in safety, treatment towards returning military veterans and teaching world events to students.

“We weren’t paying attention to what was happening in the Middle East at that point in time,” Snyder said. “Our faculty adjusted the curriculum so our students were prepared to meet the challenges of a global world. I believe that was a fundamental change across the country in how we teach students.”

A minute of silence gave the crowd a moment to reflect on the speaker’s thoughts regarding 9/11, with only the sound of the petulant rain pouring on the windows. The ceremony came to its conclusion when the veterans in attendance retreated their flags cast in memory next to the list of fallen Americans.

Gilbert gave a speech at the event on how the journalistic scene has changed in the decade since the attacks.

“9/11 woke up the world to the internet as a primary source of information,” Gilbert said. “News today has become a conversation. News is produced and distributed by regular people, who have something to say and show.”


Field day

The OU Student Veterans Association also observed the 10th anniversary with a Military Field Day event prior to the Fireside Lounge remembrance.

“I was eleven when 9/11 happened,” Alan French, a junior majoring in criminal justice, said. “It wasn’t until high school where I really grasped the concept of what actually happened, and ended up leading to me enlisting in the Marine Corps. It woke up the country as far as awareness.”As French was influenced, many active and veteran military personnel return to OU for schooling.

Jonathan Winkel, 29 of Roseville, enlisted in the army in 2000 — right out of high school. He was in Germany when the 9/11 attacks happened.

“It was a life-altering moment,” said Winkel as he looked through a book of soldiers from Michigan who had died in combat.

After returning stateside following the attacks and spending some time in New York City, Winkel served in Iraq from September of 2003-04.

The health sciences major said he “can’t believe it’s been that long.”