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Notre Dame community remembers Sept. 11 attacks

Maddie Hanna | Monday, September 12, 2005

Sept. 11 was not forgotten at Notre Dame.

About 150 students and community members gathered near the Clarke Memorial Fountain Sunday for prayer and reflection on the fourth anniversary of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks. The event was sponsored by the Department of Political Science, College Democrats, College Republicans, College Libertarians and Women in Politics.

Director of Campus Ministry Father Warner, who led the opening and closing prayers, shared the story of his visit to Ground Zero right after the attacks.

“I spent about five hours looking at that rubble, that smoke and fire … watching firemen as they looked through debris for remains,” Warner said. “While I was there, I would have these firemen come up to me with dark, sunken eyes and say to me, ‘This was a friend of mine’s brother. Will you pray for him?'”

For Warner, experiencing the scene firsthand was essential to his understanding of the situation.

“It was an amazing thing to see the sorrow,” he said.

But the ceremony was not entirely about reflection. Political science professor Dan Lindley analyzed the U.S. response to Sept. 11, saying his main goal was to increase discussion on terrorism “to try and help people who died on Sept. 11 and make sure they didn’t die in vain.”

Lindley said viewing terrorism as a form of war offers a perspective many people do not consider.

“We live in such a luxurious situation,” Lindley said. “We fight wars in other people’s territory. We don’t realize how much wars are going on. Once you understand war is fairly common, 9/11 becomes a part of the fabric of history.”

Lindley said he did not want to diminish the magnitude or impact of the attacks, or their “vicious and cruel” nature.

“But [that’s what] war is,” he said, citing the German blitzkrieg during WWII and Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.

“The scale of war is often vast,” Lindley said. “Women, children, non-combatants are rarely spared. That’s nothing new. Civilian innocence is a mirage.”

Lindley believed the “emotionalism” resulting from 9/11 caused “inefficient, unwise policy results … that emboldened the Bush administration and neutered Democrats.”

Lindley urged the crowd of “citizen-soldiers” to become politically involved to combat America’s vulnerability after Sept. 11 and the more recent Hurricane Katrina.

“All you citizen-soldiers should go out, do what you can in public discourse and debates,” he said. “Let’s focus on the real problem here, in a thoughtful way.”

After Warner’s closing prayer, the Glee Club sang “Ave Maria” and “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Students had mixed reactions to the event.

Senior Aimee Shelide said she wished more students would have attended, but thought the fact Sept. 11 fell on a Sunday was part of the reason for low attendance.

However, she applauded the speaker’s “acknowledgement of the four political party groups” and the importance of electoral participation.

“It kind of inspired me to think of war as something different,” she said. “To ask questions about it and to not just accept it.”

Sophomore Andrew Hartnett, who attended in the memory of his friend’s mother – a flight attendant on Flight 11 from Boston – said he wished the event would have focused more on the anniversary of the tragic events of Sept. 11.

“I don’t think there was enough remembrance,” sophomore Andrew Hartnett said. “I don’t think today is a day for politics, the present or the future – it’s about four years ago, the families and loved ones, the lives that were changed forever. It’s about what America stands for and what was lost that day.”