One Year Later The College Remembers September 11, 2002

By Middlebury Campus

Author: Lindsey Whitton

This week the Middlebury College community, along with the rest of the world, paused to commemorate the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. A series of scheduled events and more informal moments for quiet reflection provided a chance to remember those who were lost, reflect on the past year and ponder our collective future.
Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize winner, spoke about the tragedy on Sept.10 in Mead Chapel. He spoke from a wealth of experience that included time spent in Nazi extermination camps and decades of work as an educator and peace advocate. “I don’t want my past to become your future,” Wiesel declared at the beginning of his speech.
Audio speakers were installed outside the chapel, and the crowd, comprised of Addison County citizens and College community members, spilled out of the building and down the hill(see related article, “Eli Wiesel Inspires” pg. 11).
The following morning, Sept. 11, 2002, the sky had turned gray, a cold wind whipped across campus and rain pelted down viciously. Students rushed from building to building hiding under coats and umbrellas. Unlike the bright warm day a year before, it seemed that this Sept. 11 the weather was harmonious with the national temper.
At 8:46 am the Mead Chapel bells began to toll. Buildings emptied as students, faculty and staff gathered in the bitter fall weather to silently remember the victims of the terrorist attacks. After two minutes of individual reflection, the bells tolled once more and most people returned to their regular Wednesday activities.
A memorial service at 12:30 p.m. in Mead Chapel provided a chance for community members to gather in a solemn arena and honor the memory of slain through readings and music. The service was presided over by Chaplain Laurie Jordan and Associate Chaplain Ira Schiffer.
A poignant, disquieting HBO film on September 11 was shown four times throughout the day. The film, sponsored by The Middlebury College Museum, included pictures of men and women flinging themselves from the fiery steeps of the towers and clips from voicemail messages left just moments before the collapse.
The night of Sept. 11 an open forum entitled, “9/11 One Year After: Discussion and Action” was held in the Robert A. Jones House. Although reasonably well attended, the room was hardly bursting with scores of politically interested students. A core group of devoted liberal activists took turns at the microphone. Each spoke for a few minutes on problems he or she has identified with U.S. policy and options for action in a new direction. The group gathered to discuss possible action capable of giving meaning to, what Bill McKibben described as “the increasingly empty words about Sept. 11.”
As the day drew to a close the entire campus was suddenly plunged into darkness. The electricity failure lasted from approximately 9 p.m. to 12:20 a.m. Students who were suddenly unable to hide in technology or bury themselves in text books were forced to either go to sleep or talk with one another. In many dormitories across campus the subject of Sept. 11 2001 was raised but often the discussion lasted only a few minutes and was quickly replaced with talk of the previous nights football games or the dire need for beer.
This Sept. 11 the sentiment on campus was markedly different than last year. There was time for remembrance but many Middlebury College Community members have focused on recovery.