Where Were You?

In every generation there is one defining event. For those who came of age in the 1960s, for example, it was the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Even now, close to 40 years later, people still remember where they were and what they were doing when they learned of the shooting. Even the emotions of that day can be recalled at a moment’s notice.

For this generation, those coming of age in the start of the 21st Century, that defining moment was when news first spread of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Five years later, most people can still remember where they were, what they were doing, and what they felt when they heard the news. No one could hide from the continuous newsfeed regarding the attacks.

Members of the St. John’s community are no different from the general population. At St. John’s, as in the rest of the city, most people can recall all that was in their minds on Sept. 11.
Here you will find a sampling of reactions to the attacks. Administration, faculty, students and alumni alike have some connection to the attack on New York City.

Fr. Charlie Plock is a member of the University Ministry. Living and working in New York at the time of the attack, Fr. Charlie was at work in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. He is the only one of the four shown here who was in New York on Sept. 11.

The Rev. Donald J. Harrington, C.M., is the president of St. John’s. While most of Harrington’s time is spent on the Queens campus, the University also maintains a campus in Manhattan. On Sept. 11, Harrington was in Los Angeles, CA attending an alumni event. Although 3,000 miles from the crash sites, and from home, news of the terrorist attacks still hit hard.

Marie-Caroline Causin is a recent alum of the University, having graduated in May 2006. In 2001, however, Causin was living and studying in Germany, her native country. On Sept. 11, Causin was at university in the city of Frankfurt. Yet even in another country, on another continent, Causin felt the fear and sadness of the attacks. Even a world away from the smoke and debris, those in the city of Frankfurt reacted in similar fashion to those right here in the United States.

Adam Smith, a current graduate student at the University, was a senior in high school on Sept. 11. Only a short distance away in Asbury Park, NJ, Smith was close to the action yet far away at the same time. Although unable to remember his exact reaction on that day, Smith recalls the days that followed. The youngest of those writing here, Smith’s reaction to the attacks is typical of this generation.

While each person reacted differently on Sept. 11, there is a similar element to each. Fear, sadness, and disbelief took hold of all four. An inability to understand what had happened was also common.

Yet, five years later, all here still live and work in the city of New York. While the days following Sept. 11 were dark and frightening, the tragedy was not enough to scare away these four citizens.

While Plock and Harrington were already members of the local community, Smith and Causin came months after the attacks. Smoke, debris, and terrorist attacks were not enough to keep them away.

New York is a resilient city, and its residents even more so. The events of Sept. 11 only helped to show the world that New Yorkers, whether native or transplanted, will not be kept down for long.

The four writers here will give different perspectives of the same tragedy. Each one had his or her own personal fears and concerns on that day five years ago. Each one had different reasons for being afraid,and each has different reasons for staying. But each person was then, or is now, a true New Yorker, able to persevere.

Whether the statements made by these four members of the St. John’s community match your own or not, every person can relate in some way to the fear and hope held by Plock, Harrington, Causin and Smith.