A moment of silence

As we finish our fourth week of classes, I hope that you have all found some time to reflect and be still among the tornado of responsibilities and due dates.

Among the craziness of Wednesday’s schedules and activities, many students took a moment to remember the 18th anniversary of 9/11 by the Oval for the Flag of Freedom Memorial.

Missouri Southern honored the anniversary with a presentation of colors from the Gold Program and special guests including Chief Matthew Stewart from the Joplin Police Department, a performance of the National Anthem and a moment of silence.

It was a short but very sweet tribute to the lives that were lost 18 years ago.

When it comes to 9/11, some of us remember that day like it was yesterday, but I assume that a lot of the younger generations recall learning about that fateful day in history while watching documentaries in classrooms or looking at photographs in textbooks.

I was very young when 9/11 happened, and I don’t know where I was or what I was doing when those planes struck the Twin Towers, the Pentagon or when Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania.

I have always viewed 9/11 as a tragedy that gave American citizens the chance to prove their patriotism to the world. But, as a white person of privilege, I recognize that 9/11 has become a political token to justify discrimination against non-whites.

America didn’t let hate win against those particular terrorists. But, as I’ve gotten older I’ve come to notice how 9/11 affects people in other ways.

An important quadrant of our diverse religious community was put on blast for a tragedy they had nothing to do with. The effects of this are still at work today in our politics.

The election of Illham Omar (D-MN) to the United States Representatives was monumental in the fight for equality and representation in our government. Based off of my observations online, some conversative whites would be hesitant to agree.

In their minds, electing a Muslim woman to Congress is “forgetting 9/11,” as if the entire population of Muslims in America are the ones at fault.

How quickly we forget the Zadroga Act. Thankfully, it was reauthorized over the summer, but it took a lot of pleading on comedian and former host of The Daily Show Jon Stewart’s part to give it any attention. 

This bill compensates 9/11 first responders after they contracted diseases and cancers from the toxic smoke they inhaled all those years ago.

Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Paul Rand (R-KY), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Mitt Romney (R-UT) and 18 other Republican senators did not sponsor this bill.

According to the Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act Coalition, there was not one Democratic senator not sponsoring this bill and there was not one Democrat in the House of Representatives that voted against the compensation fund act.

I’m curious to see if any of the Republicans mentioned above are going to post a #NeverForget post on social media.

Ignoring the health and wellness of the brave first responders who risked their lives to save others is truly “forgetting 9/11.”

The hatred that fueled the carrying out of 9/11 is still at work within the so called “patriots” that believe Musilms conspired with each other to “destroy the West.” This attitude is dangerous to the safety of minorities in this country.

As you reflect on your feelings and memories of 9/11, be aware of how this day affected people of the Muslims and the damage it did to minority communities.

It is a day to remember everyone who was directly and indirectly affected.

As someone who primarily remembers that day from classroom discussion and television documentaries, I have always associated 9/11 with The Falling Man photograph.

If you don’t know what I’m referring to, The Falling Man captured an unknown person in business attire free falling to his death headfirst. The moment in time was documented by Richard Drew, a journalist from the Associated Press.

We can assume this unknown man made the decision in a moment of despair and terror. Many others who were also trapped in the towers were faced with the same ungodly choice: burn alive or jump.

Reflecting on that image allows me to understand how truly horrific that day was. Looking at The Falling Man offers me a glimpse into the day that changed the world and the decisions people were faced with making.

Even if you don’t recall that day for yourself, please spend some time this week thinking about what people had to go through and how it irrevocably changed American society and the world.

It is also National Suicide Prevention Week.

Both 9/11 and suicide prevention efforts can be related to each other because they both deal with tragic and seemingly hopeless situations.

Crisis text line reports that every 28 seconds, someone attempts to end their life.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, there were 47,173 reported suicides in America in 2017.

The Trevor Project reports that suicide is the leading cause of death for people ages 10-19 in the U.S.

This subject can be triggering and difficult to discuss. It can also be hard for those like myself who have never wrestled with this to understand why people do what they do.

But, it is important to be educated about the complexities of mental health and and be willing to challenge what you think you already know. Taking the time this week to focus on everyone who is affected by sucide forces us to take a look at how we treat others and to remember that there is always hope.

The unknown man who happened to be at work on a seemingly normal Tuesday morning 18 years ago was suddenly thrust into a situation that only offered him two options, both of which would’ve ended in death.

To whoever is reading this: You have an option. You are needed. You are valuable. There is hope.

I encourage everyone to take a moment to research ways in which you can give back to suicide prevention organizations like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, The Trevor Project, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

This week I made a donation to one of my favorite organizations, The Trevor Project. They are a non-profit that assists people who identify as LGBTQIA+ and advocate for prevention policies in schools all over the country. They do a lot of meaningful and important work all year long.

Another important resource is the 24/7 national suicide prevention hotline. They can be reached at 1-800-273-8255 if you need to talk to a professional. Their service is free to everyone.

If you are struggling with depression, thoughts of suicide, anxiety, low self-esteem or any other issue can make an appointment with counselors on campus for a one-on-one conversation.

You can stop by Hearnes Hall room 314 to make an appointment, call 417-625-9324, or email CounselingServices@mssu.edu.

We should all be helping each other out. This is a call to action for you to learn the warning signs of suicidal thoughts and behaviors so you are equipped to see when something is wrong.

Now that our course load is getting more stressful and the semester is ramping up, it is vital to be kind and courteous to the people around us to create a more positive and uplifting academic environment that makes students of all races, religions and sexual orientations feel like they belong here.

That is how we remember 9/11.

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