9/11 Leaves a permanent scar on America

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The more time that passes, the less often we think about the atrocities that were committed on September 11, 2001. Especially for young people, the memory of 9/11 fades with every year that goes by. The days following the attack had people living in fear, thinking that the world will never heal; but as time passes, people always fade back to their habits and will eventually stop thinking about it every day. This is why it is important for us to create memorials that will keep the wounds “fresh”.

Since the attack, memorials have sprung up across the globe, remembering all those who were killed; either in the building or trying to save those who were stuck. Most famous is the memorial at the site of the two towers which opened in September of 2006.

Each year since its opening, the memorial holds a ceremony on the anniversary of the attack. It draws tens of thousands of people from across the country and it features speeches from officials and a memorial for the victims.

The memorial externalizes our memory of 9/11 and allows us to reflect on the atrocities by including a roll call for all of the victims. This allows the crowd to hear each name and think about each death. All the names are engraved around the outside of the monuments that make up the foundation of the towers.

Along with the memorial, an official 9/11 museum recently opened near the site of the attack. The museum allows us to reflect on 9/11 in a different way because it is full of graphic images and artifacts to visually show us what the scene looked like. The museum creates a present day exhibit where you create a shared memory of what happened, even if you were too young to remember the attack.

The 9/11 memorial are important because they remind us of these horrendous events and remind us that we need to be cautious in the future. The also show us that we are resilient, and that nothing can stop the American people from moving forward.

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References

Pool, Bob. “Rosemead Honors Victims of 9/11.” Los Angeles Times, September 5, 2011. Accessed September 14, 2017.

Cole, Carolyn. “Reflecting Absence: the September 11 memorial”. Los Angeles Times, September 3 2009. Accessed September 14, 2017.

 

Isla Vista Responds with Memorial Paddle Out

 

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Participants form a circle as they receive support from shore

(Photo by Maurita Braun)

A Community Built Response

Isla Vista focused on remorse, reflection, and healing as it recovered from the rampage that left 6 young people dead in May of 2014. A number of memorial services were held in its wake to help the community cope with the tragedy; among them a memorial paddle out coordinated by the UCSB surf team. It attracted thousands of students and faculty as it took place in the water and on the beach, just north of campus point. The service brought the entire community together to grieve in solidarity.

Isla Vista’s nature is a community that revolves around the outdoors, most often the beach, and is filled with surfers and beach users, therefore coordinating a paddle out memorial service, which is historically for surfers, was an excellent way to unite the community for a common cause. It drew almost a thousand participants as it unified the victims and attendees.

I spoke with neighbor and UCSB alumni Denton Vanduzer who was in Isla Vista at the time of the shooting. He explained that, although the paddle out is a standard form of memorial in beach communities, Isla Vista’s reared unconventional because of the size and nature of the tragedy.

Traditions were altered to suit the needs of the community in several ways. There were six moments of silence because six victims instead of the usual one, and there were thousands of people standing on the beach in solidarity whose cheers could be heard over those from the people in the water.  These changes in convention from traditional paddle outs caused the memorial to be more effective.

Denton then emphasized that although he did not personally know the victims, there was an unspoken agreement amongst his friend group that paying their respects and attending the paddle out was necessary in order for them to better cope with the tragedy. This was because of the style of the memorial; it wasn’t just a service, shrine, or exhibit, but an event where you have to physically get out there and do something in order to pay your respects, which further exemplifies its positive effects and why it suited Isla Vista.

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Surfers return from the paddle out

(Photo by Peter Vanderbelt)

How We Remember

The nature of the paddle out that brought Denton and his friends together was what facilitated a collective memory of the victims. The memorial brought the community together and allowed them to participate, as equals, in an event to reflect on the individuals harmed in the tragedy.

Dee Britton would describe the paddle out as a form of “collective effervescence” because the community is coming together to share the same thoughts and participate in the same action; It creates a visceral connection between all parties involved. This connection allowed the underlying themes of community strength, love and compassion to resonate with the participants and help them move past the tragedy and into the future. These common feelings further enhance our shared memory of the victims.

When explaining why he chose to participate in the paddle out, Carry Spurrier said “I wanted to do something with the Isla Vista community that could stand as another type of memorial for the students we lost,” in an interview with Lexi Weyrick in the Bottom Line. 

The nature of Isla Vista caused the paddle out to be effective, and the effective paddle out facilitated a positive collective memory of the victims. The community remembered these victims through a celebration of their lives. The beauty of the paddle out and the success it reared externalized the memory of the individuals into something far greater than just being victims.