Volume 95, Issue 12

Thursday, September 20, 2001
Search the Archives:
Tips for searching

Campus and Culture
Submit Letter
Contact Us
About the Gazette


Terrorism: it's finally hit home

Timeline of terror

Beyond the hard numbers

Beyond the hard numbers

Worth the Waite
Lindasy Satterhwaite
C&C Editor

On Tuesday Sept. 11, we were shocked to witness the calculated destruction of the World Trade Center twin towers, a symbol of independence and prosperity.

From the moment the tragedy occurred, everything surrounding the physical attack of the buildings has been quantified: the speed of the planes, the force of the impact, the number of minutes it took for the buildings to fall and the height of the rubble these two one-hundred and ten storey buildings created.

But the real impact of this cataclysm cannot be scientifically determined.

The three seconds it took for the plane to shoot through the heart of a tower or the forty minutes it took for the towers to collapse cannot even begin to compare to the long term consequences on human lives.

Every scenario imaginable is being experienced by someone. The families of those who were on airplanes have the solace of knowing their loved ones did not survive. However, their final moments will haunt them forever.

"What were they thinking of when they died? Why were they on that plane? I didn't even get a chance to tell them I loved them."

There are families of victims who, one week later, are stilling holding out hope that by some miracle, their loved ones are still alive within a pocket of the rubble. The CNN website posted a missing persons link where friends and family can send pictures and biographical information concerning the 5,422 people still unaccounted for.

For many who did escape, the physical repercussions have been devastating. Some survivors were severely burned on over 75 per cent of their bodies during the explosion. Other victims have been left with severe disabilities; many more may not survive their injuries.

However, the emotional effects of this tragedy are overwhelming and extend across the globe. To have witness or be involved in last Tuesday's extreme terror would be life altering. Those fortunate enough to not be removed from the vicinity have been inundated with the grotesque images splashed on newspaper covers.

John Service, director of the Canadian Psychology Association, explained the most profound effect is upon our sense of security. Common effects can include an increase in anxiety and depression, insomnia and a change in appetite. "It may be difficult to get those horrific images out of [our] minds. They may stay with [us] forever," Service said.

Jacquie Lester, a Canadian attending Boston College, recalled stories she heard from classmates. There was the freshman who lost both her parents. The man whose sister called from a tower to tell him to turn on the news and has not been heard from since. There's the story of the girl who lost her father, the head fire marshal in New York City.

The numbers are what strikes anyone first, but it is the stories behind each and every one of those numbers that makes this attack so devastating and so personal.

As one professor at Boston College explained, the normal six degrees of separation quickly become two degrees when everyone knows someone who knows someone affected.

In that sense, Tuesday, Sept. 11 really hits home.

To Contact The Campus and Culture Department:

Copyright The Gazette 2001