Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan

Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan

Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan


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From the editor’s desk: remembering 9-11

Marcia Ratliff/Winonan

Most of us remember where we were when we found out about the planes on September 11, 2001. Perhaps you’ve thought through that morning, all the smaller crises of a day coming to startling perspective against a backdrop of catastrophe.

My bus was late to school. For me this was exciting, because it was an excuse to miss part of class, to take my time hanging up my jacket and backpack, putting my lunchbox on its shelf, and sauntering to my desk as my third-grade teacher finished explaining the “Daily on Deck” exercise of the morning.

So we stumbled off the bus, laughing. It was probably 9:30, and school started at 9:20. Yes. 10 less minutes of enslavement. Thank you, late bus route.

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But as I walked into the classroom, I noticed the thick silence. I noticed the word “hijack” written on the white board in Mrs. Oberloh’s neat cursive.

She was quiet when she asked us to take our seats and explained everything.

But really, how do you explain such a tragedy to a classroom full of 8 and 9-year-olds? I’ve often thought over the staff meeting the teachers must have had, the hushed intercom announcement as the school geared up for the day, the prayers, the decisions.

When I got home from school, my mom was watching a little black-and-white TV she’d borrowed from a neighbor.

And so it went, the picture becoming clearer as we let the media flood into our lives with stories of horror and heroism.

I remember writing in my journal about it, convinced that we would catch the hijackers soon. I was reading too many “Dear America” diaries in those days, so I felt vaguely historical writing about 9-11, as if the careful cursive in my journal was significant beyond its words.

Today marks the 12-year anniversary of the plane crashes, and it’s an understatement to say that the world has changed. In addition, we have changed in it.

When I was a junior in high school, my U.S. history teacher pulled out several laminated front-page spreads from September 12 and the days after that. He showed us the iconic photo of the man falling from the building, upside-down, his legs furled out above his body, his life caught on camera just before it ended.

It’s a disturbing photo from a disturbing day.

There were other photos too, of firefighters and volunteers who put themselves in harm’s way to rescue others.

I think 9-11 was a day when journalism did what it is meant to do. Videos, broadcasts, images and words brought a nation together around a city.

Individual stories were important. Heroes, minus the cape and spandex, appeared all over the place. Memory became a bit more sacred.

I didn’t know anyone in New York when the planes hit. I was 8 years old in 2001. But on that day in history class, the tragic weight of 9-11 became much more real to me.

All because of newspapers and the persistent record they constitute.

If you were born after the Gulf War ended, 9-11 and the war that followed it are the major foreign conflicts of your lifetime so far. How will you remember them?

I’d like to see myself and my generation take it upon ourselves to know the story of 9-11, whatever our political views. I’d like us to know that there are heroes in the United States and be able to tell our children and grandchildren about them.

Start today. Share a 9-11 story with a friend. Take a moment to remember the dead. Dig up some good journalism and start reading.


Contact Marcia at [email protected]

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