I grew up in the Metro-New York area, about 45 minutes from the city. I remember the moment in September of 2001 that our nation came under attack. I was playing with Legos in my pre-K classroom when I overheard talk of the incident among a group of teachers huddled in the corner. Given my close proximity to the city, I watched the events of 9/11 play out right in front of me. Friends’ parents worked in the World Trade Center. I could see the billowing smoke from our local beach. But my memory of that time is not defined by the events of September 11.
Rather, I remember it for the way our region—and nation—came together in the days following. This past September 11, I listened on the Internet to the September 12 archives from the WHTZ-NYC morning show. The hosts connected callers in need of food and rides with complete strangers on other lines. They spoke of the tranquil streets, free of loud honks. Pedestrians greeted one another. Americans had put aside their egos and come together in support.
I feel so incredibly lucky to attend Deerfield: a community where it is the norm for members to treat one another with genuine kindness, dignity and respect. It becomes apparent the second you step onto campus that Deerfield students will go above and beyond to assist another student or a complete stranger. Whether it be a smile from a passerby on Albany Road or an offer to help clear dishes in the dining hall, there is an atmosphere of compassion and selflessness on campus.
Today television news programs and internet headlines are dominated by talk of violence, inequality, racial tension and instances of police brutality. However, that sense of unity and empathy that pulled our country through the latter half of 2001 has faded. There is little doubt in my mind that there are hard times ahead of us. I hope that our country can come together again—to put egos aside and look out for one another. Here at Deerfield, we’ve tried not to let those values slip.
So when we leave Deerfield and go out into other communities, we must bring these values with us. Let us steep ourselves in this heritage and stay worthy of it.