Hillsdale College students, faculty, and local servicemen gathered together Tuesday afternoon in order to honor the memory of victims in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The Hillsdale chapter of Young Americans for Freedom held a their Never Forget 9/11 Project, a ceremony of remembrance for the heroes of that fateful fall morning. A group of students gathered by the flagpole near the Civil War statue. Assistant Professor of Management Peter Jennings gave a speech, while Chaplain Adam Rick offered a prayer and presided over a time of silence.
“[9/11] became — suddenly, unexpectedly — the darkest day of our generation,” Jennings said in his address. “Our beloved land of liberty was under attack. Those who survived have our memories, shared memories.”
Gathered around the flagpole, the memorial included a moment of silence, followed by student musicians playing taps as an honor to those who died in the terrorist attacks.
Even after 17 years, Jennings said the memory of 9/11 challenges how we think about service and patriotism. Our post-9/11 generation, he said, does not think about serving in the military in the same way college students did during the Civil War or in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Our nation has always depended on patriotic citizens to volunteer in service of America.
“That patriotic service, if not lost, is shriveled,” he said. “There are few people willing to teach respect of the flag.”
Senior Margaret Odell, vice president of Hillsdale YAF, believes remembering 9/11 is “vitally important” because her generation takes freedom for granted, she said in an email.
“We have grown up in privilege and comfort, and we need to be taken out of that space and brought to the serious reality of the sacrifices made so that we can continue to live in the comfort we have always known,” she said.
Odell said she chose Jennings as the speaker because he had given talks to YAF previously and was “a voice of leadership and service on this campus.”
The annual remembrance of that September day, Rick said, is part of how Americans heal.
“Anytime human beings experience a trauma, you need to talk about it,” he said. “We forget things very quickly. We have to teach the next generation.”
Tragedies happen in the world, he said, but we can’t try to find a simple answer to the travesties that happen.
“God doesn’t give us an easy answer,” he said. “God is big enough to handle our cries. Don’t resort to easy answers.”