9/11, The Freshman Perspective

BY RAEGAN NEUFELD

When remembering the events of September 11, 2001, it’s common for a majority of Americans to think about where they were and what they were doing. However, enough time has passed that a whole generation of young adults can’t remember where they were or what they were doing: because they weren’t even alive yet.

For as long as the freshman class of 2025 has been learning about 9/11, they have always had a very unique perspective. The impact that September 11 had on teachers and parents is still so prevalent and the emotions they felt are still so raw. There is probably no other historical event that today’s students have a better understanding of, due to it’s recency.

Every freshman learned the same facts each year. On September 11, 2001, terrorists attacked the twin towers and the Pentagon, and America was forever changed. 

“I learned that it was a very tragic event. It affected people individually it seems like. It wasn’t necessarily something that happened in a far-off place,” freshman Elizabeth Leck said.

Jaylah Hurley mentioned learning about the changes in airport security, and how people felt about their own security in America. 

“It really made people question if they were safe. My mom told me that she remembers everyone was terrified of what was going to happen,” Hurley said.  

The days that students learned about 9/11 were very somber, and often filled with a mix of emotions. Alexis Pfannenstiel described her experiences as saddening, but also confusing at times. 

“As an American, we are definitely taught that America is a fortress and the greatest country in the world,” she said. 

Pfannenstiel also mentioned the differences between the country then and the country now. 

“Learning about this event deeply saddened me, but also because after 9/11 America was whole and worked together to better our nation,” Pfannenstiel said. “I don’t know if America will ever be as whole again as we were after this tragic event occurred in our country.”

Leck recalled how she was more affected by the personal stories told by teachers or other adults.

“The documentaries we watched were terrible, and they made me really sad, but when teachers or adults would talk about when they were experiencing it, that would get me more because I realized that it was something that happened directly in someone’s life and it wasn’t that long ago,” Leck said. 

Hurley shares Leck’s sentiments regarding living through others’ stories about 9/11 as being impactful. 

“For people our age, we weren’t alive, so we were just experiencing secondhand what they felt. I always felt sad that they were alive for an event that was that traumatic,” Hurley said.

The influence of 9/11 was evident every year as students continued to learn about the events in school. As the years have passed, the students have grown to better understand the significance that September 11, 2001 had on the world we now live in. The significance is even personal in some cases. 

Pfannenstiel herself was impacted by the events of 9/11. 

“As I’ve grown older the significance of 9/11 has definitely changed for me,” she said, “As I grew up I found out that my father decided to join the Marine Corps after watching the attacks on the twin towers. My father becoming a Marine made my parents decide to get married, and have me.”

Despite the time passed since the attacks on 9/11, the current class of college freshmen – and everyone else who wasn’t alive – will continue to remember that day and its importance to our country.

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