Monday, September 11, 2017
My family has been touched by terrorism. My cousin, Scott Marsh Cory, died on Pan Am Flight 103--the Lockerbie flight--on December 21, 1988. He was a Syracuse University student coming home from a semester abroad in England. Every December 21, with Christmas and grading on my mind, I stop for a moment to remember him. I think of him at various other times, too. My son Scott is named after him.
The events of September 11, 2001 are irrevocably connected in my mind to all that. I taught that morning after both World Trade Center towers had been hit. I gave students permission to come and go in my class that day. But I felt that I had to teach that class. I vowed that I was not going to let terrorists have power over me and rule my life--which is, after all, what they want to do. I did not teach my afternoon class. I had learned after my morning class that my brother was scheduled to be down near the World Trade Center towers that morning--and we could not reach him. I was too emotional to be able to teach, and almost everyone had cancelled their classes at that point. Luckily, my brother and a colleague got stuck in the traffic trying to get into Manhattan from New Jersey that morning, and they were turned back after the bridges and tunnels were closed.
I paused at the beginning of both of my classes today to reflect on that day 16 years ago. I gave my students permission to come and go, as I had that morning. Some of them were quite young when the September 11 attacks occurred. I cannot imagine what they remember of that day. No doubt some remember little, if anything; but some may have been deeply affected by the violence of that day.
Today, many of us, each in our own way, stop to remember. I wanted to take a minute to do that here, too.