WKU students realizing 9/11’s impact years later

Evansville sophomore Conner Scales has been a part of the ROTC program at WKU for the past two years.

Lindsay Kriz

The nation’s eyes were glued to television sets on the morning of Sept. 11, watching the most deadly terrorist attack to take place on United States soil.

WKU underclassmen were clueless elementary school students when the Twin Towers fell. But today, they can say they have a better grasp of the impact that has shaped our country’s history.

Evansville sophomore Conner Scales said he was in the fourth grade when the attacks happened. But even at the age of 10, Scales had an idea of what was going on.

“I knew it wasn’t an accident,” he said. Scales said Sept. 11 was one of the main reasons that he joined WKU’s ROTC program.

“It was in my family, so it seemed like the right career choice,” he said. “But after 9/11 it seemed like it was part of my duty to do it – to do something about it.”

Scales said he’s understood the difference between good and bad since his childhood.

“I grew up with G.I. Joe,” he said. “And I knew that when something happened I had to rise up and do something about it.

“I can’t let bad people do something to good people and sit by and let it happen. I can’t let it happen.”

Louisville freshman Rachel Archer said that when she went to school 10 years ago, her teacher was in a panic while the classroom’s television streamed images of the attack.

“I didn’t get it cause we were so young,” Archer said. “We ended up having to go down to the library to have them try and tell us what it was all about.”

Archer said the events of 9/11 didn’t truly have an impact on her until a few years later because of the media and pop culture.

“(My family) would watch movies about 9/11 on that day, and it made it more intense – just to know more about what was going on,” she said.

Archer said that she visited Ground Zero in New York City this summer.

“I expected people to be more taken aback,” she said. “But everyone was just going about their business. I guess it might be because they go by there every day, and they’re used to it.”

Archer said that when her family was ready to move on from the site, she could only stand there and take it in.

Louisville freshman Corey Switzer said he doesn’t exactly remember where in school he was when the attacks happened.

He does, however, remember that he knew about the buildings themselves but was confused about the attack.

“I just remember seeing the towers get hit,” Switzer said. “I didn’t understand the magnitude of it. I didn’t know if it was intentional or not.”

Reflecting on its 10-year anniversary, Switzer said the feelings he didn’t feel as a young boy, he now carries with him.

“It’s pretty sad,” he said. “It was something that should have never happened, and I don’t know if it’ll ever happen again.”

Like her classmate, freshman Hannah Steward, of Gallatin, Tenn., was watching the television at her elementary school as the events were happening.

But to her young mind, the coverage of the attacks was just another story on the news.

“All the adults were really freaked out,” she said. “Everybody’s running around like a chicken with their head cut off.”

But now, having grown up with 9/11 in the background,

Steward says she doesn’t really pay notice to the measures that were taken after the attacks anymore.

“Airport security, all that kind of security, to me, is like second nature now,” she said. “I don’t really have to think about it when I go through airport security. I’ve just kind of grown up with it, so it’s no big deal.”

Noah Pollert, a freshman from Columbus, Ind., also a member of ROTC at WKU, said he remembers vividly the morning of Sept. 11.

“I went to a Christian school, so I was in religion class,” he said. “Another teacher came into the room and whispered into our teacher’s ear.”

Pollert said the teacher immediately turned on the news coverage the minute the second tower was falling.

“We didn’t really know what was going on,” he said. “So I think we were all shocked and mesmerized.”

Today, Pollert said he’s definitely more patriotic post-9/11, and on Sunday, he’ll commemorate the day by watching the news and reflecting on the attacks.

“(Sept. 11) never influenced me to join ROTC,” he said. “But it definitely keeps the fire burning.”