Remember and Reflect

Remember and Reflect

Amid all the excitement of this city, there are moments that the real world comes crashing into what's been a dream semester. Two experiences really drove this home: visiting the Pentagon and its 9/11 memorial, and the way students here responded to the horrific tragedy in Paris. These reminded me that this city has seen some dark days and certainly is always under the threat of another horror. However, the people here have reinforced my belief that no matter the evil in the world the good in it is always greater.



I was really looking forward to touring the Pentagon. It's an iconic part of Washington, and one I wanted to make sure I didn't miss. After going through security, my tour group was led by a uniformed member of the Navy who gave us the history of the building and the various branches of the military while walking backwards through the long corridors. It's surprisingly nothing terribly special from the inside. Essentially, it's just a really cool-looking office building. It seems much more exciting in the movies. There was one part, however, that was all too real.


We were taken to the room where the plane made impact on September 11th, 2001. It was just an empty room save for a list of names of the people who died in the attack on the Pentagon that day. Being in that space was eerie, knowing that I was standing in the point of impact. After the tour, I walked around to the back of the Pentagon where a memorial was set up on the side that got hit. It is a series of benches with the names of each victim on it and a flow of water underneath. All of the benches are pointed at the building at the same angle the aircraft was flying when it hit. Every morning, at the time of impact, the flow of water under each bench pauses for one minute. It's a very simple memorial, but it's incredibly profound. Here, people can sit and remember that fateful day. I was very young when September 11th happened but I still remember the news coverage on TV when I got home from school. To be in this spot was sobering, but also an opportunity to remember those who lost their lives at the Pentagon in service of their country. I'm glad I was able to finally take that tour.



A few days after my trip to the Pentagon, the world learned of the horror that was unfolding in Paris, France. The senseless slaughter of so many innocent people hit hard for us here at The Washington Center. There are a good deal many students here from Europe, and one very dear friend from France in particular. It was heartbreaking to know that this hit so very close to home for many of my peers. Some students here decided to organize a candlelight vigil in honor of the victims of terrorist attacks not just in France but in Lebanon and other places around the world. We met up in the parking lot behind the RAF (Residential and Academic Facility). There, people could make signs to tape to the brick wall at the back of the lot. People lit tea lights, and we had a moment of silence in remembrance of all of those whose lives have been cut short by acts of terror. I reflected on all that had happened in the past year. At the end, we placed our candles in front of the signs in the shape of a peace sign. As we stood there in the cold evening conversing with one another, it dawned on me that those that thought their use of violence persuasive had already lost. Here we were, a group of students from all over the world coming together as ONE voice in the name of peace. There will be more terrorist attacks, no doubt about it (I'm writing this post in the aftermath of the shooting at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado, for example). But in the end, these too will fail. We as a country and as a global community are stronger together, and I am glad to have seen a perfect example of that in the wake of the violence in Paris.



To Lucile


Until next week,


Barrett Goodwin

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