Dear Editors (and Sam Chott, in particular),
I am writing in response to a story in the Collegian (#TUhonors911 misuses victims to advertise of Sep 19, 2016). While I appreciate your passion regarding tasteless and shameless marketing of 9/11 victims, I do not agree this was outcome of the tribute that took place at TU last week. Yes, there are horrible and self-serving public memorials around 9/11 and I appreciate you shedding light on them.
While you, Sam, see the sharing the stories of the victims as crass, I found it to be a touching remembrance of people whose lives were silenced that tragic day. Though their information may not be relevant to you, or of public interest in your opinion, they matter to me. It helps me remember the loss, and keeps their senseless deaths from becoming a mere footnote in history. For me, the purpose of sharing the stories and my gratitude to those who shared them was not to humanize them; that infers they were not human to begin with. Perhaps the rest of the world has forgotten the names and faces of the victims and simply refer to them generically as “the victims”, “those who died on 9/11”, or “one of the 2,996”. Every year, I honor them and a couple in particular, William T Dean and Cesar R. Garcia. Billy was a sweet and thoughtful man with bright red hair. Cesar was funny and charming, and had a smile that made you wonder what he was thinking. They both worked for Marsh McLennan, they were my classmates and my friends.
While you feel SA created an ill-conceived and irreverent marketing campaign, I see a connection to very real people were anonymous to you until now. Their lives and their deaths matter, and the fact that it was done by students who were not old enough to remember the details of that fateful day in a school over 1300 miles away from the events means something.
Does that mean that you shouldn’t make an effort and engage in community service? No. It’s not mutually exclusive. I think it would be great for you to organize something and I would be happy to help. There are many first responders who are still suffering. My friend Steve’s wife, Judy, a veteran of the NYPD just died (Sep 13th, 2016) of anaplastic thyroid cancer, a very rare form of cancer which developed as a result of her exposure to toxins during 9/11 rescue efforts. If you want to voice frustration at organizations and people who shamelessly ‘honored’ them and repeatedly turned their backs, you can point to our elected officials who finally passed the Zadroga Act last year, unfortunately not in time to help Judy and countless others.
I appreciate your vigilance in not simply jumping on a feckless bandwagon, but in this case it matters.