As the school year goes into full swing, subsequently so does the remembrance of the Sept. 11 attacks, a chain of events that completely altered the security and freedom of the United States in a span of 102 minutes. Students and staff alike may take time in their respective classes to discuss the impacts of the attacks on society today. On college campuses, a plethora of people gather for candlelight ceremonies or memorials to honor the victims, just as Albion did this past Sunday. It’s acts like these that place emphasis on how our country has come to terms with the tragedies that occurred that day, especially in the immediate aftermath of it.
After the attacks occurred, there was a dire need for emotional and mental support in New York City. Many citizens courageously stopped what they were doing to assist their fellow Americans who were suffering. One of those courageous contributors happens to be Albion College’s own Dr. Frank Kelemen, who is a familiar face around campus as the director of counseling services.
Kelemen, who specializes in trauma relief, was contacted to go to New York to work for fourteen days and arrived there days after the attacks occurred. “There were a number of us working, and we met with survivors who were either in the buildings or right by them when everything happened,” Keleman explains. “I mainly worked with employees of the affected businesses; many of them had lost co-workers and friends.”
“People were just really in shock. Some had come to work late that day; others just happened to get out of the building in time. They were really just trying to process how all of that happened.”
Much of the counseling that Kelemen did in New York City hit close to home, as he was also dealing with college students in the city who watched the horrors from their dorm rooms.
“One of the things that struck me the most, was that the main student center for Pace University was full of first responder equipment, all of which would eventually never be used,” said Kelemen. “It was a very profound experience to see that people came fully ready to help.”
As the years have gone by and more terrorist attacks have threatened society, Kelemen sees a difference in our reactions to these kinds of events.
“Unfortunately, we almost become accustomed to some of the tragedies that happen today,” said Kelemen. “It’s important to consider that in the wake of tragedies like these, for some families the suffering does not end.”
This anniversary is also a unique one, in the sense that current high school freshmen were born after the attacks occurred. In regards to the first post-9/11 high school students, Kelemen believes that like other tragic events in history, the Sept. 11 attacks will become more of a historical matter rather than a personal one. “This is what makes the remembrances, like the one we [had] on the quad, all the more important.”
Albion’s commemoration of the attacks occurred on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016, on the Albion College Quad. A moment of silence and a vocal tribute from the Briton Singers honored those lost in the attacks fifteen years ago.
If time teaches us anything, it is that in the face of adversity, we move forward, stronger and more united than before. And here on campus, students and staff are proving that they will never forget how the tragedies of that day changed our country forever.