“Your indifference cost these men and women their most valuable commodity: time.”
It was a statement that millions of people watched June 11, as former political comedian Jon Stewart addressed a House subcommittee about securing the funding for the Sept. 11Victim Compensation Fund. The committee chairs were largely empty.
Nearly two decades later, 9/11 remains in the hearts and minds of those affected by the tragedy including the New Yorkers who witnessed the attack from all angles and the family members of the victims. But the impact of 9/11 over time has changed for younger generations, according to Ryan Langley, a professor in Chapman’s sociology department.
“It’s far more significant toward the older generation compared to now,” Langley said. “The older generation had first-hand experience, whereas the younger generation did not.”
Nancy Brink, director of Church Relations and a Chapman chaplain, also believes that 9/11 is being slowly forgotten by young people.
But Li Anne Liew, a sophomore film production major, said that she doesn’t believe “9/11 will be forgotten in (her) lifetime.”
“It’s very much part of the political climate and the beliefs and fears of people,” Liew said. “People are still being affected by the event, both directly – with the responders getting sick – and indirectly, such as fears of terrorism.”
The commemoration and remembrance of 9/11 has been in the news in recent months, as claims by President Trump regarding his response to the attack have been argued against. As he signed the compensation fund into law, Trump revived a long-lasting argument that he was on the site of Ground Zero with first responders.
“Many of those affected were firefighters, police officers and other first responders. And I was down there also, but I’m not considering myself a first responder. But I was down there. I spent a lot of time down there with you,” Trump said at the signing July 29. Trump was not present in the aftermath of 9/11, according to retired fire department chief Richard Alles.
Stewart’s emotional plea to Congress was followed by remarks by former New York City detective Luis G. Alvarez, who spent three months digging through Ground Zero’s rubble for survivors and remains. At the time of the June 11 hearing, Alvarez was about to endure his 69th round of chemotherapy. He died 18 days later.
The attacks of 9/11 have also sparked debate over the U.S.’s role in the war on terror, specifically in Iraq and Afghanistan. William Cumiford, a history professor at Chapman, told The Panther that 9/11 shifted the Western attitude towards the Middle East. In the aftermath of the attacks, politics and culture have shifted in American society, he said.
“Currently, 9/11 – though still an important and galvanizing day in our history – has been somewhat eclipsed by other tragic news, particularly mass violence created by seemingly random and racially charged shootings,” Cumiford said.
The Wallace All Faith Chapel services will be available for students dealing with grief or personal needs around 9/11, according to Brink. Chaplains are also available to meet with students.