Opinion: Claremont Colleges Must Honor 9/11

On Sept. 11, 2001, our parents’ generation had a moment akin to that of Pearl Harbor for our grandparents. They could tell us exactly when they first heard about the attacks in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania. We, the average college-aged student, cannot say the same.

I was a year and a half old when my mom saw the smoke rising from the towers in the distance that morning on the beach. I have no such memory, and most, if not all, of my first-year classmates have a similar lack of recollection.

Growing up in New York and hearing the many first-hand stories from that day ensured that I never passed by the anniversary without taking part in a remembrance of some sort. I cannot say the same for here in Claremont. No memorial, no email, no service, no announcement, no mention of it.

The day came and went without a 7C memorial on Walker Wall, the bell tower ringing at the time the towers came down, or any other memorial besides lowering the flags to half-staff, which is required by Public Law 107–89 passed by the 107th Congress.  

While remembrance does not necessarily require one of these concrete actions, to anyone walking around campus last Tuesday, it would seem as if it were just any regular day of the week.

Perhaps the easiest opportunity for any of the 7Cs to express their condolences would be through social media. Peer institutions, such as Bowdoin College and Williams College, released tweets, and lest you think our distance from the East Coast bears responsibility for this, Occidental College tweeted an offer for students to take part in a 9/11 remembrance walk.

Collectively, the 7Cs published thirteen tweets last Tuesday, but not one of them mentioned the anniversary.

The last couple years at colleges across America have brought students to campus who, like me, have no memory of the day. That, though, should be no excuse to forget to pay tribute to those who lost their lives on that day, as it is such an important moment in world history. The tragedy of 9/11 managed to touch nearly all corners of the globe with 90 countries losing at least one citizen that day.

Considering that students at the Claremont Colleges come from around the world, it would be irresponsible not to pay tribute as a community to a moment that had such global impacts.

Back in 2010, after also noticing the apparent lack of attention paid to the 9/11 anniversary on campus, Heidi Wolfgruber CM ’11, organized a group to place 2,996 American flags on campus, and the tradition continued for at least the following year. It seems, though, that the school community has fallen back into an apparent disregard for the day.

Pomona College’s Timeline website describes the actions students took on the original 9/11: “On that evening, the wall was painted a uniform black; on the second day, the New York skyline appeared, with the Twin Towers restored and the words ‘You Are in Our Hearts.’”

TSL’s archives from the weeks following 9/11 are abound with stories of similar memorials.  

We can certainly learn a lot from their example.

I do not intend to accuse the students or any of the 7C administrations of maliciously ignoring a tragic moment in our nation’s history. Instead, we seem to have forgotten the importance of remembering an important, pivotal moment in our recent history.

Furthermore, I am not calling for some grand memorial service that overwhelms people; I am simply advocating for there to be a subtle reminder on campus about the day’s history. For our generation, this proves to be even more important since we, ourselves, have no memory of it.

As a community, we cannot let this continue. Whether it be planting flags on any of the campuses or ringing the bell in the Smith Clock Tower to mark the moment that the towers fell, a lasting tradition of remembrance simply is the least we can do.

Christopher Murdy PO ’22 is an intended International Relations major from Lido Beach, NY. He has yet to be convinced West Coast beaches are better.

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