On Monday, September 11th, 2017, Americans commemorated the most gruesome and tragic terror attack in American history… or did they? While Americans across the United States seized the day to pay respects to those innocent civilians who died, first responders that selflessly sacrificed their lives for others, those aboard Flight 93 who took action and sacrificed themselves for the protection of others at designated targets, and countless others who worked tirelessly to save lives, I witnessed a tragedy that emotionally matched this very day that we are meant to commemorate.
I attend Kent State University and lead an organization called Students Supporting Israel. My board and I organized a 9/11 event to remember the lives lost 16 years ago. As the Israeli cultural group on campus, we felt that it was more than necessary to show the ties between Israel and America and how both countries can stand in solidarity through terror.
Together with my fellow club members, we set up a table in a public space outside the student center and placed empty cups in a 9/11 formation. As students walked by our table (and as some members of my organization walked around the area), we kindly asked students to stop by and place one of our American flags in a cup.
The results of our commemorative endeavor were absolutely shocking. Regardless of whether I or another SSI member engaged a close passerby, there was a startling number of people who declined to commemorate the three thousand Americans who died at the hands of terrorism. This reaction, particularly for me, was especially depressing and gut wrenching. Our simple pitch of, “Would you like to place a flag in one of our cups to commemorate 9/11?” was continually shut down with incredible ignorance. If the answer wasn’t a “Yes,” and it seldom was, it was either: “Oh, no, thank you,” “Oh, Nah, I’m good,” or my personal favorite, “mmmm, not today” (when in the world would you like to commemorate 9/11 then?).
Unfortunately, the blatant disrespect for this memorable day did not stop at ignorant refusals. More disappointing was the abstinence of the Kent Student Center Programming, Center for Student Involvement, Undergraduate Student Government, Kent State University, and President of Kent State from issuing a statement or speech commemorating 9/11. In fact, the only other known event to commemorate issues related to 9/11 was the E Pluribus: Reflections on the anniversary of 9/11 event, which focused on commemorating the lives lost in Pakistan and Syria via drone strikes instead of honoring the heroes here at home.
At Kent State University, September 11th, 2017, was a day of complete disrespect to the victims of that terrible tragedy 16 years ago. We promised to never forget the essence of that day, but clearly, based on the actions I witnessed on Monday, many of us have. And not only that, but it also seems that we have forgotten what we stand for, and what evil to which we succumbed to. Therefore, may the following message find the individuals who did not commemorate 9/11 and permeate their hearts, ringing indefinitely within their very souls: NEVER FORGET.