Growing Up Changed Student Perceptions

Photo by Jenna McGlin

With the morning just beginning, there is a classroom filled with 20 elementary students laughing and playing before the start of the school day. The bell rings and the teacher calls the attention of the little 8 year olds to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America…

Then, the teacher turns the T.V. on and that is the last memory Mary Sherman, junior at UWM, recalled of her own memories as a child on that day.

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee has experienced Sept. 11 for the first time this week with a generation of students who have a hard time remembering the events of that day.

Freshmen, sophomores, and even some juniors across the UWM campus have a vague memory of how they found out there was a terrorist attack. Many had the distant memory like Stephen Ramos’ who is a sophomore studying Art Education. He said, “I think there was a TV.”

Since this generation of students was in elementary school when the Trade Towers went down, they were almost shielded from what was going on. Sherman, Global Studies major, remembers the tension in the room, and could tell that the teachers were on edge.

She said, “I remember the mood of it.”

Growing up helped with the understanding of the events that had occurred, but for some students it helped with the significance.

Brianna Quade a senior at UWM majoring in history said, “Now it’s significant because it did happen when I was alive.”

There was a consensus among students who believed it changed our world, but didn’t affect them personally therefore it wasn’t that significant when they were young. This generation of students may not have remembered exactly where they were in class, but they do remember the outcome.

Chris Harris, Art Design junior, said, “It added to the whole paranoia in the community.”
The different kind of change that was seen was mainly security with airports. Not only did this add 2-3 hours to the checking bags process, but it also added nervousness among flyers. This paranoia continued with a judgmental society.

Students have observed the profiling of Muslim and Arab Americans and the views that were obtained since the attack. They observed the negative connotation towards them.

Students across campus said they were later able to interpret 9/11 through the different newscasts and movies that were produced. Some of the most vivid images that stood out to them were; the second plane crashing into the tower, the smoke, and people either trying to wave for help or people jumping from the windows.

This generation of incoming freshman may not have remembered any of these images until years later, but the one thing they do remember is the outcome of what happened. They remember so well because they never grew up without the memorials, without the war, and without the society that has become of it.