WINCHESTER, Va. (WDVM) — Many Americans can remember exactly where they were when they learned of the terror attacks on September 11, 2001.
But for a new generation of American adults, the day was one remembered through the nation’s collective memory, rather than their own. Eighteen years after the attacks, the children born in 2001 are now adults, many beginning their Freshman year of college.
At Shenandoah University, some of those students turned out for the university’s remembrance ceremony, many just months old on the day of the attack.
“I was a year and two months old,” said freshman Madeline Bevins.
Her friend Brian Dugan, who attended the event as well, was just four months old.
Although both students lived in different parts of the country and were too young to remember the events of that day, both of their mothers were nurses.
“I’m actually from Connecticut,” Dugan said. “I’m an hour from the New York border. My mom was a nurse. And she went straight to Stanford Hospital to get ready for those people, who she knew she could help. It was really hard.”
He said his mother’s response, in part, inspired him to want to become an EMT.
Other students don’t have a personal connection to the tragedies that unfolded in New York, Washington, and Shanksville, Pa. that day.
Freshman Kendall Jones was only a few months old, but when he learned of the attacks later, he didn’t understand the gravity of the situation.
“I just knew it was two planes crashed into a building cause I was a little kid,” Jones, who grew up in Richmond, Va. said. “Later on I started doing research about it and […] I saw a video documentary about it, so I watched that and it kinda gave me more info about it. Every time I feel like I learn something new that happened.”
Several service members were in attendance as well, and shared their thoughts on the enduring memory for the next generation.
“They just can’t forget,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Anna Tarsia. “There’s a lot of those hashtags, ‘we will never forget’ but we really honestly can’t forget.”
“We have students that are 18 years old that weren’t alive for that period,” said U.S. National Guard Staff Sgt. Robert Hucks. “As a service member that just makes us want to drive on a little bit harder every time we see it.”