"Forever changed" vignettes
Meet members of the Ohio University family whose lives were immeasurably altered by the events of September 11, 2001.
Like many Americans, Bryan Randolph felt he had to do something to help the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He chose a most direct route: Four times he traveled to New York City to lend assistance near the site of the World Trade Center. Now he's using the knowledge he gained there to work with Ohio University and Red Cross officials in hopes of preparing other students to meet future disaster relief needs.
While Randolph's response went beyond what anyone might expect of a college junior, his peers on campus certainly shared his concerns.
Mike Canan witnessed the effect the attacks had on the University community from a telling vantage point, that of The Post editor's desk. And what he saw, as fall quarter progressed, was a transformation.
"Everyone knows people in New York or Washington, D.C. Everyone had connections," says Canan, whose staff produced an almost entirely local eight-page edition for the following day. "No one expected anything like this."
The enormity of the events -- which students watched unfold on TVs in residence halls and apartments or viewed on a large screen in Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium -- quickly spurred many from shock to action. Among the vignettes you are about to read are the stories of students who had to get involved. Their tales and those of others with connections to the horrific tragedies have the power to inspire, fascinate, hearten and sadden.
"Students have definitely become more 'other-oriented,'" Canan notes, pointing to the wave of volunteerism and giving that followed the attacks. Examples range from the dozens of students who assisted near Ground Zero to those who contributed loose change on their way uptown the weekend after Sept. 11. (In the latter instance, Athens firefighters raised some $37,000 to assist the families of New York City firefighters.)
"More than anything, this made people aware of their country and that they need to pay attention to things that are going on beyond their little world," Canan notes. "In the '60s, students were looking to the world around them. I think today's students are more apathetic."
Yet September's tragedies have made them less so, he says.
Students pinned tiny white ribbons to their shirts each morning almost as routinely as they flung backpacks over their shoulders. Flags immediately appeared in dorm windows and streamed from apartment balconies. Students engaged in long discussions -- in class and out -- about U.S. foreign policy, the military action in Afghanistan and the need to respect people of diverse backgrounds.
The reaction is understandable. This is the first world event in their lives to make an impression so strong that they will always recall what they were doing and who they were with when they first heard the news.
As Canan points out, "This is our generation's Pearl Harbor."
"Forever changed" vignettes