On Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, the world was shaken to its very core; but you wouldn’t know that looking at the Flyer News issue from that day.
The issue was printed presumably early in the morning, before any planes had hit any towers, the Pentagon or crashed into a field. The stories were obviously written long before. The world still had a sense of normalcy and innocence that was about to be shattered. But the September 11 issue of the Flyer News has preserved that innocence.
Ads in the paper offered the newest Nokia phone in all of its brick-like glory. There was a classifieds section advertising the normal requests. Sports reporters covered various Flyer teams. Women’s volleyball had just won against both St. Francis and Pennsylvania in the Marriott Flyer Invitational. Men’s soccer had just won against both Akron and Oakland. Women’s soccer had lost twice while travelling on the road, but they’ll definitely get them next time. And it’s ok, because the Flyer football team just absolutely trounced Robert Morris, who was formerly number one in the division, 37-9.
It was not until Friday, Sept. 14, when Flyer News released a special report, “UD mourns tragedy” blazoned across the front, that the tragedy of 9/11 would be discussed in the paper. The reaction of the Flyers in 2001 could be summarized in one word familiar to Flyers in 2019 – community.
“Now is a time for us to pull together in faith and offer prayers and support for those who’ve lost loved ones,” wrote Bro. Raymond Fitz, president of UD at the time, in an email sent out on September 11. “Please turn feelings of fear, anxiety and anger into prayer, and continue to talk and support one another.”
That’s just what the Flyers did. According to the September 14 issue of Flyer News, the Student Government Association (SGA) teamed up with the Red Cross Club for table hours to facilitate donations toward the Red Cross supporting New York. One dollar or more would award the donator with a red, white and blue ribbon. SGA said they were working to ensure every residence hall and campus house would have an American flag.
The front page of the September 14 edition of Flyer News showed another hallmark of UD tradition – a sheet sign. “GOD BLESS AMERICA,” it proclaims in bold red writing. “PRAY FOR OUR GREAT COUNTRY.” More pictures inside the paper show sights of Flyers gathering together and comforting each other. One picture shows a student climbing on to the roof of his house in the Student Neighborhood to hang an American flag from his house. Another shows many students lining up, waiting for their chance to donate blood.
“I feel a definite call to be responsible in this situation,” said Reagan Miller, who was a senior elementary education major. “I can’t ignore the fact that there are real people out there who need help and I can help them.”
According to an article covering UD students donating blood to victims, the waits for donating blood were hours long with lines wrapping around the block from the Dayton Community Blood and Tissue Center. Around 925 units were taken, mostly from people in their twenties.
In the midst of a crisis, the first thought for Flyer students was to give to those in need, to support a community in need after such a traumatic event. In one of the darkest hours of our nation’s history, Flyers stood up for our beliefs and values we aspire to on this campus. We embodied the Marianist values not just for the community of UD, but for the entire nation.
Throughout the September 14 issue, there were various students discussing fears for family members. The majority of students found out their families were safe, but there were two Flyers for whom the attacks hit too close to home.
Todd Ziegler was a senior history major on September 11. At the time, he was spending time in Washington, D.C. interning under Congressman James Traficant. The office where Ziegler was working was only two and a half blocks away from the Pentagon. When one of the hijacked planes hit the building, Ziegler heard the explosion.
“It was pretty traumatic,” Ziegler said. “You could see smoke everywhere.”
Everyone in Ziegler’s office building was evacuated, and he made it out safely. But for Rebecca Scott, a first year in 2001, the attacks were far more personal. In a letter to the editor in the September 18 edition of Flyer News, just a week after the attacks, Scott pours her heart out to the university and her fellow classmates. She described how she woke up that morning and went down to Kennedy Union to eat. There, she saw a TV with the Twin Towers billowing smoke and was informed that two planes had hit the buildings. She began to tear up.
“My daddy works there,” she said to those around her, pointing at the TV.
For the next few days, Scott and her family received no word from her dad. She described the heartbreak and fear she had waiting for news of her father. Throughout all this pain and fear, Scott found the emails she was receiving from UD about efforts to help those in need comforting. In her time of need, she knew that her school and community were reaching out to help people like her and her family, and even those worse off.
In a time of crisis and fear, Flyers were able to come together to support everyone in need. It makes me proud to be a Flyer.