A Decade Later
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Sep. 7, 2011
A Decade Later
Trinity University professors and administrators reflect on the events of 9/11
Looking back, people recall the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, dawning like any other day of the young semester at Trinity University. Classes were under way and meetings were taking place as usual. Then, the unspeakable happened, breaking the sense of normalcy and changing not only Trinity but the world. The terrorists might have broken the campus calm, but Trinity responded by donating blood, raising money, praying, and holding an academic teaching session to explore many questions about what will forever be known as 9/11.
Here are some memories of that morning, in their own words:
Sheryl Tynes, associate vice president for Academic Affairs and professor of sociology:
"After dropping off my children at their elementary school (and hearing one of the teachers mention a plane crash in New York City) I was teaching a Research Methods: Social Statistics class in a computer classroom in Cowles Life Sciences. By that time, we could tell that something major was happening and all of my students were logged on to their computers and the major news sites.
"In that class was Trinity student and sociology major, Rebecca Loubriel. Becca was also the president of ASR. I told the class that none of us were sure what was happening, but that San Antonio and Trinity were safe and we had a lot of ground to cover in learning statistics. I pressed the magic button that disallowed students to surf the web and we proceeded with class. After class, many of us attended the mid-day service in the chapel to bring our community together in what were world history-making events.
"The next week, while I felt stunned by the magnitude of what unfolded, Becca Loubriel and MANY of her Trinity classmates quietly set about their work. That work humbled us with their leadership. They helped to organize a Teach-In in Laurie Auditorium where Trinity experts on history, politics and religion spoke; they orchestrated a blood drive and a fundraiser; they made ribbons for all to pin on their lapels. They proactively made a difference and reminded those of us who are privileged to teach them that sources of inspiration, are indeed, around us all."
Mary Ann Tetreault, the Cox Distinguished Professor of International Affairs in political science:
"The morning of Sept. 11, 2001, was clear and beautiful in San Antonio. As I passed her office at my apartment complex (walking) on my way to work, the manager and her assistant rushed out to ask me what had happened in New York. I had no idea but told them I would find out. I ran the rest of the way to the university and I arrived as Tucker Gibson located a television set and rolled it into the Storch lobby. It went on just in time for us to see the plane hit the second tower.
"Naturally we were all shocked that day but the weeks afterward were even more surreal than the event itself. The absence of air traffic was a blessing but we enjoyed it for just a few days. When planes started flying again, they triggered apprehension. I was teaching my seminar on the Viet Nam war but we began every class with student reports about post-9/11 impressions and feelings. One described his recurrent nightmares. Especially chilling were the dreams triggered by overflights. The sense that danger could fall out of the sky anywhere was very strong in him and resonated with others in the class. Another student had a close friend who was working as an intern in Pat Leahy's office. Leahy was one of the senators who received an envelope full of anthrax in the mail. The student was deeply distressed by the lack of security and worried constantly that another such attempt might be fatal - which proved to be the case when postal workers were infected by these nasty missives and five of them died.
"I can still recite the mantra I spoke twice a week that semester every time these reports ended: you are safe. The worst has happened. Now everyone is alert. It will not happen again. You will be OK.
"Two weeks later I demonstrated my own faith in that mantra when I flew to London for a conference. I was one of four passengers on the 747. We were outnumbered by the crew."
David M. Tuttle, associate vice president of Student Affairs and Dean of Students:
"When I first heard the news that a plane hit the World Trade Center I pictured a small plane clipping the side of a tower and bouncing off. I was busy on a deadline and didn't want to be distracted, so I focused on my project. Then there was news of more planes and for a while everyone wondered what the scope of this thing was. I made it to the Coates Center in time to watch with others on the info desk TV footage of the second plane striking. It changed everything. Deadlines didn't matter. I was sad and in shock. I went to the campus service and candlelight. I wanted to be there for my family and our students, but emotionally had little to give. I think everyone felt that way. So we all watched a lot of TV reports, tossed and turned at night, and slogged through those first few days and weeks. We got through it together. That's how we do things here."