A Generation's Defining Moment

In an anniversary year that isn't even a multiple of five, colleges (and their newspapers) across the nation commemorate the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon six years ago.

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In an anniversary year that isn't even a multiple of five, colleges (and their newspapers) across the nation commemorate the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon six years ago.

At schools like North Carolina State, Arizona State, West Virginia University, the University of North Carolina, the University of Kentucky, Syracuse University, and the University of Pennsylvania, students and officials have planted gardens, lowered flags to half-mast, and held candlelight vigils and moments of silence. Some of the displays have been in honor of the victims of the attacks themselves, but many more also incorporate remembrance of the current conflict in Iraq. "At a time of war, it's important to have a day of remembrance and reflection," said one Kentucky student.

The focus on the war and security is palpable at other colleges. Texas Christian University's Daily Skiff asks students, "Are we safer?" (The answer: Yes, no, and maybe), while UC-Berkeley professors do what they do best and take the opportunity to question the military engagement in Iraq.

Miami University's Miami Student plots the path of media coverage since the attacks ("Newspapers were afraid of being called unpatriotic," says one professor), and the Yale Daily News writes about the continuing controversy over the school's memorial speaker, who the College Democrats say is too conservative and "polarizing." Meanwhile, the Daily Kent Stater decided to honor firefighters as "America's heroes."

The Iowa State Daily investigates what it's like to have a September 11 birthday (no big deal, apparently) and also the effect the event has had on Muslim students at Iowa State.

Personal 9/11 stories also abound (a New York native at the University of Wisconsin and a professor at  the University of Louisville who underwent spiritual conversion), and the Cornell Daily Sun reports on research at the university that shows how post-traumatic stress syndrome has haunted both witnesses and survivors. "Through this technology and this study we can see, and therefore know, that people have been through something traumatic, and that it has changed them," says a researcher. "Hopefully...we can eventually provide therapies to help them."

Penn State's Daily Collegian sent a reporter 100 miles from University Park to Shanksville, Pa., where United Airlines Flight 93 went down. The site of the crash is now scenic and grassy and is often overrun with teddy bears, children's toys, license plates, hats, T-shirts, helmets, and firefighter jackets.

"An American flag marks where the Boeing 757 crashed," she writes. "It's peaceful there now."

Alison Go