Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Tragedy brings about changes

Tragedies are given their name because of the intense impact they have on an individual. Large-scale tragedies are especially brutal due to the varying affects they have on different people. But uniformly, tragedy leads to some form of change.

Sept. 11, 2001 was undoubtedly one of the greatest tragedies the United States has experienced. On Sunday, Twitter feeds and Facebook pages were littered with personal memories from Sept. 11, 2001. Almost 3,000 Americans were killed in an act so shocking and personal that even today, 10 years later, each of us can remember exactly where we were and what we did on that day.

Yet, despite the intense pain and grief this tragedy produced, the last 10 years have been a period of growth and change.

The United States has implemented new security measures to protect our country. The advent of the Department of Homeland Security spearheaded changes that soon affected every citizen. Opening a bank account and enrolling in public education now include a checklist of security factors, and immigration laws have intensified.

Everyone’s favorite, airport security, has tightened significantly. I may have to arrive at the airport an hour earlier now, only to wait in a line moving at a snail’s pace and be frisked to an uncomfortable degree.

But it is a fair trade for a feeling of comfort and safety.

And while those topics are debates on their own, they are byproducts of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

But the biggest change in America is one of a less tangible nature. The initial reaction of anger and confusion were matched with a call to “rise up” as a nation, to both mourn and work together. Heroes in the form of firemen, officials and civilians rose up, reminding us why American pride is so unique.

On Sunday, the 10th anniversary documentaries and live feeds from memorial services around the nation were not spent talking about the war on terrorism or Al Qaeda, but rather about the personal experience and the hope of those affected. And watching the live streams and television documentaries that covered cable on Sunday, I started to think about our own, more recent tragedy.

Like Sept. 11, 2001, most of us will forever remember exactly where we were and what we were doing on April 27, 2011. The grief and confusion the natural disaster created was so intense, permanent change ensued.

Our own “homeland security” was tightened. This past Wednesday, the University of Alabama tested a new Emergency Action Plan. A text message, voice mail and overhead siren and speaker alerted me that this was “just a test,” but the increase in communication was apparent. The Tree Restoration Program and the newly passed Tuscaloosa Forward plan are other signs of change to come, sure to be followed by more action of the like.

But what about that other stuff? The stuff that CNN dedicated its Sunday too, the stuff that makes America different than any other country in the world, the stuff that helps people “rise up” and come together?

We have our heroes that stepped forward, without a doubt. There were students who worked together to answer the needs of tragedy only hours after disaster struck. Many attended memorial services dedicated to the lives lost. Restoration efforts are still being met with passionate dedication.

By the time our community realized the impact of the tornado, almost immediately words like “unity,” and promises of “coming together as one student body” were ringing across our campus. And as I returned to Alabama this fall, I was hopeful that being here would give me a chance to help and in return, receive the healing I needed.

Whether that has been accomplished or not is different to each person, but after reliving the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001 and then reflecting on the positive growth that ensued, we need to be reminded of the goals we set as a united student body.

Conversation can lead to compromise, or it can create a crack that will only grow into an even deeper rift. We should take a deep breath and refocus on that “unity” goal we set for ourselves.

Tragedy can shape a community for the better or it can sprout reasons to find differences between each other and birth anger. In 10 years, I hope we can look back on our tragedy and be proud of our change and growth; but as we all realized on Sunday, 10 years goes by much faster than we think.

SoRelle Wyckoff is a junior majoring in history and English. Her column runs weekly on Mondays.

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