From the Archive: New York Tragedy rocks USI


Photo by Ethan Badertscher/Shield Archive

Students and faculty join hands during a prayer vigil in the afternoon of Sept. 11 outside the U.C.

Travis Neff, Staff Writer

Message from 2021-2022 Editorial Staff: 

The first issue of The Spartan Shield was published Oct. 15, 1968. The Shield Staff is celebrating The Shield’s 53rd birthday by digitally republishing stories from The Shield Archive. The following story was published Sept. 13, 2001 after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. The Shield staff felt this story was appropriate to remember as the country reflected the 20th since 9/11 this year. The following story has not been edited by the 2021-2022 staff.

Story from The Shield Archive: 

Along with the rest of the nation, the USI campus was cast under a thick veil of shock and uncertainty on Tuesday, when the United States became the victim of the worst series of terrorist attacks in modern history. What began as a typical workday for Americans quickly turned into the opening chapter of a saga of numerous and frightening possibilities. 

On Tuesday morning around 8:45 a.m., a reportedly hijacked plane slammed into the upper floors of a World Trade Center tower in New York City. About 18 minutes later, a Boeing 767 crashed into the second tower, sending a massive explosion of smoke and flames billowing out of the structure. Around the country, people were waking up to scenes of chaos and disaster. 

But the maelstrom of catastrophe had not yet ceased. Two more large jets met devastating fates; one smashing into the Pentagon near Washington, D.C., and another falling into an area outside of Pittsburgh, Penn. 

People in Indiana took notice just as the rest of the world maintained a mass media vigil. Federal offices all across the state heightened security. 

Like all other airports in the country, the Evansville Regional Airport was closed down. Aides to U.S. Rep. John Hostettler told reporters that the congressman had been moved to an “undisclosed, secure location.” Eastland Mall closed and local schools canceled extracurricular activities. 

Even here at USI, students and faculty felt the impact of the day’s events. People huddled around televisions all over campus, striving to gain as much new information as possible and to discuss their views with one another. 

Freshman Chris Houston reflected the news of most. “It is scary that they can get us wherever they want.” 

Classes were not canceled on Tuesday, but some professors at USI let students leave class early. 

TVs were set up in The Loft and other gathering places on campus, showing nonstop coverage of the tragedy. 

Dr. Donald Pitzer, professor of history at USI, said he thinks this tragedy illustrates how the world has changed.

“This is a declared war,” Pitzer said, “There is no traditional way to protect ourselves from this kind of attack. Civilians are now on the front line.” 

Barry Hart, the director of campus security at USI, expressed concern about safety right here at the school. 

“We are most sensitive about reaction towards any student who may be identified with certain groups,” Hart said. 

“I would ask everyone to hold their anger for thoses who are truly responsible.”

At noon on Tuesday, some students tried to create a sense of togetherness by holding a prayer meeting outside of the University Center. About 200 students held hands and prayed for those affected by the atrocities. 

“This brings us face to face with our limitations,” said Jeff Louden of the Campus Ministries. “This prayer meeting brought us together so we don’t have to go through it alone.” 

All USI students will probably remember where they were on this day of terror. 

For many, the memories of sorrow and anger will always be with them. 

“I am feeling sorrow and sympathy for the families (of the victims),” said Robyn Buss, a USI freshman. 

“I’m mad, but I don’t know where to direct my anger.”