Remembering September 11

by Joel Kaskinen

On September 11, 2001 our country faced the biggest act of terrorism that we had ever seen.

On September 11, 2001 I was in the second grade. I had no concept of what we as a country were facing. I did not have the developmental skills of grasping the concept of terrorism or war or anything that was happening in the world. I sat in front of the TV screen watching in confusion, as teachers and parents, and school staff sat in fear and isolation and sadness.

Today, fifteen years later, we remember. We remember exactly where we were on that fateful day for our nation. We look back and we see the loss, fear, anguish, sadness and chaos that ensued that day. We look to the future with hope, and heavy hearts. We grew in union and solidarity that day. We were truly a nation united.

Today, fifteen years later, we still live in a world filled with terrorism, violence, and hate. We have experienced many acts of terrorism since 2001. We have seen an increase in violence and active shootings among other tragic acts of hatred. We see oppression on the daily and we have seen a constant battle for social justice and safety and inclusion of every individual.

Today, fifteen years later, we still stand united. Each time something goes horribly wrong in our country, or on a smaller local scale, you see communities rise up and stand together. There is such pride and strength in community, in union. We see protests, and peace vigils. Families and communities band together in solidarity and support.

Today, fifteen years later, we live divided. Why if we face tragedy together is it so easy for us to fall apart during times that aren’t so tragic? Why is there still violence and hate? Why is there still prejudice and judgement? Why does oppression still rule our nation? Why do we live in a world in which we can’t let our guard down and be vulnerable? Why is it so easy to be scared and confused and hateful toward others? Why do we not stand in celebration and solidarity and unity every day?

Today, fifteen years later, I am educated. I have grown and matured. I have developed. I am an adult and I have the ability to understand and grasp concepts of depth such as this tragic event of our nation’s past. I have graduated from college. I have moved away from home. I am a graduate student in a field that has a major emphasis on social justice. I have learned what it means to be oppressed and to watch as people working next to me or sitting in class with me have been targeted and have faced tragedies of their own. I have grown in my faith and held onto hope.

Today, fifteen years later, I am an educator. As an aspiring student affairs professional, it is my wish that students will learn about our nation’s history and how we overcame events such as the attacks. It is my wish that students will learn about others and about culture, awareness, identity, and love. I am an advocate for peace, love, equality, inclusion, diversity, justice, hope, and civility. This is why I am choosing a path in Higher Education. I want to see the development of students as they overcome obstacles in life as great as 9/11 or as small as a major change or a failed test. I hope to help them grow and learn, and I hope to provide a lens in which they can view the world in a way that allows them to grow, develop and overcome. I strive to build leaders and advocates of a better world so that fifteen years from today we won’t have other events to look back on and remember. Instead we will only remember how strong and united we have become and how much we have grown in love.

Student Affairs - the First Years

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