9/11 remembered: Experiences of students and faculty

A volunteer works in a field of more than 3,000 American flags, putting biographical information on each for every victim of the 9/11 attacks, as well as one each for every U.S. service casualty since 9/11, on Friday in Sandy, Utah.

Ten years have now passed since Sept. 11, 2001, but many students and faculty at Weber State University still remember the immediate effects of the day’s terrorist attacks on them, on the campus and on the world.

Blake Morgan, now a product manager at a software company, was a student at WSU at the time, and described the atmosphere on campus that day as “really subdued. Everybody was in some sort of state of shock, and just disbelief . . . I didn’t know what to feel. It was like I was watching a movie or something, but there was this part of me that knew it was real.”

WSU President F. Ann Millner, who was vice president of university relations in 2001, was also on campus, in a Board of Trustees meeting, when the first airplane struck the World Trade Center. She said that there was much speculation on campus as to whether it had just been an accident — until the second plane hit.

“I sensed that the world would never be the same again,” Millner said.

Many current WSU students were in high school, junior high or even elementary school in September 2001. Nursing sophomore Kylie Fugal, whose birthday is on Sept. 11, said she remembers celebrating her 10th birthday party in the midst of national panic. A lot of people weren’t able to leave their houses to come to the party. The children who did come were asked to paint birthday cards, and some young guests, having been bombarded with footage of the attacks, painted burning buildings on their homemade cards.

Tessie Zarogoza, a junior in physical education, was also in elementary school at the time, and is among those who had family members in the area of the Twin Towers when the attacks occurred.

“I just remember thinking that it was a movie, and then about an hour later, all the kids got picked up from school, and our parents had to tell us what had happened,” Zarogoza said. “I actually had an aunt that worked in a building right next to the trade center, and so we’re calling down to New York, making sure that everybody was OK — and luckily, you know, she got out and everything. It was just scary.”

Adam Berman, a political science senior, is in the Army, and returned from his second time in Afghanistan just a couple weeks ago. As a member of the ROTC when the attacks happened, he said he witnessed some of the immediate effects on the Army’s enlistment.

“Recruiters showed up; 17 of us went and joined the Army that day,” Berman said.

The effects of 9/11, however, were not only evident to those in the United States. Nhi Dinh, a sophomore in medical laboratory science, said she was still living in Vietnam when the attacks happened. Her family had been planning to immigrate to the U.S. in 2001, but she said the repercussions of 9/11 made it even more complicated. Her family was held up in coming to the U.S. until 2003.

“I think it’s a worldwide kind of panic thing, not just the United States,” she said.

However, Millner, along with several students, said that one major effect of 9/11 was the widespread movement of coming together as Americans and human beings, alongside the panic and devastation.

“There was certainly this sense of ‘the world has changed,’ a sense of sorrow, but also there was an interesting sense of unity, as Americans pulled together during that time,” she said, “this kind of outpouring for the loss that had been experienced, people kind of focusing around families, providing support and comfort, and trying to understand, yet pulling together with a sense of unity.”