Students and faculty remember 9/11

Lauren Roberts

On September 11, 2001 students walked into classrooms with news that would define their generation.

Planes had struck the twin towers in New York City.

Freshmen entering college in 2013 were in elementary school when the attacks happened.

Chase Henderson, freshman in computer science, said, “I remember being in my classroom and them coming on the loudspeaker telling everyone to turn on the TV and then just basically silence in the entire school. Just shock and awe at what’s happening. I was young but I can definitely remember it specifically.”

Nicole Humbert, pre-veterinary senior, was living in New Mexico at Cannon Air Force Base.

“When I got the phone call from my aunt, I was at home asleep. I turned on the news and it just showed what was going on and what happened with the first crash. Then I guess the second crash happened as I was watching it,” Humbert said.

George W. Bush was in his first term as president. Leading up to that day, his approval ratings hovered around 56 percent. In the days after the attacks, his ratings in Gallup polls spiked to 90 percent as Americans rallied around their president.

“Looking back, I like how it brought our country together and I like how we used a time of tragedy to make a better situation and grow from it,” Henderson said.

Humbert said, ”Everyone seemed really angry over it, and I think people were favoring war because the feelings were you bombed us and we’re gonna go in and it seemed like we had a lot of support from other countries.”

The week after 9/11, the U.S. had already deployed troops to the Middle East in places like Kuwait, Afghanistan, Turkey and other outlying countries.

“While watching the attacks I thought we were going to go to war,” Humbert said. “It was inevitable and it was just a matter of time before my husband got the call to go and about a week later he left.”

Less than two weeks after the attacks, while addressing a joint session at Congress, Bush said, “This war will not be like the war against Iraq a decade ago, with a decisive liberation of territory and a swift conclusion. It will not look like the air war above Kosovo two years ago, where no ground troops were used and not a single American was lost in combat.”

There were suspects and fears at first that the attackers were home-grown, but the name that came up as the mastermind was a Saudi terrorist, Osama Bin Laden, who was given asylum in Afghanistan after bombing American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

“In response [to Kenya and Tanzania] Bill Clinton launched cruise missiles at what they thought was an Al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan and a factory in Sudan,” Steve Garrison, chair of political science, said.

More than a year after the attacks, Congress would officially authorize military engagement with Iraq—Operation Iraqi Freedom. Like with Vietnam and the Gulf War, Congress authorized extended military combat, but not war against another sovereign nation.

“Since we are the country that used nuclear weapons, we feel like we have the responsibility to control the proliferation of what we call weapons of mass destruction which are nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, biological weapons and so on,” Garrison said. “This is the justification for invading Iraq. This is the justification for what we did with Saddam Hussein further back. The sanctions that we levied against Iran and North Korea.”

Eleven years removed from the invasion of Iraq, we now know their were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

“At the time I thought Iraq was definitely related. There was Al Qaeda going on and mention of cells in Iraq,” Humbert said. “I remember the reasoning for us going into Iraq after invading Afghanistan was Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.”

The Bush Administration was criticized for invading Iraq. Those in opposition believed that the reasoning for the war was because of oil or retaliation for Hussein’s attempt on the life of Former President George H.W. Bush.

”We use the justification to at times intervene in other countries around the world and Iraq was one. It turns out they had already dismantled their nuclear weapons,” Garrison said.

It wouldn’t be until May 2, 2011 that Navy SEALs shot and killed Osama Bin Laden. The man responsible for 9/11 was found hiding in a compound in Pakistan.