Faith, anger, empathy, patriotism. Sadness, fear, reflection, insensitivity. Love, hate, thoughtlessness.
MIT students expressed a range of feelings in messages scrawled on a paper memorial erected next to an American flag in Lobby 10 last week, sharing the space with the World War II memorial. In their own words, a cross-section of the messages and dialogues follows:
Try to understand.
Let us not condemn the many for the irrational actions of a crazed few. Peace does not grow out of hate.
Revenge is wrong, but so is appeasement. Terrorism should be outlawed like piracy was 200 years ago. Our fight is with individuals and regimes, not populations.
My heart goes out to the victims' families. May you have peace! America needs peace!
We must not have a Kristallnacht in America!
If we do nothing, what will they do next?
America, you give of yourself so selflessly. You are the true martyr, asking for nothing in return other than peace, justice and freedom.
Please don't stereotype all people of color. That is racism and xenophobia.
- Mourn for the dead. Let them not be a justification for more pain and death.
- Exactly. This isn't about America. It's about PEOPLE. But violence will not solve ANYTHING.
- Yes it will. It will teach them not to [deleted] with the U.S.A.
I regret that I didn't vote.
NYC. You're still the greatest city in the world!
Hey, at least it made you smile.
- Which one of you peacemakers has lived in a time of war? As an elementary student I had to hide in bunkers to avoid possible missile attack. Treasure what you have: protection of your powerful state, and do not undermine the national security and the war effort.
- So you want to get rid of democracy and make sure American children grow up in bunkers. Thanks a lot!
- To those consumed with shooting at Arab-Americans and Muslim-Americans, throwing stones at schoolchildren and firebombs at community centers: PLEASE know you are EVERY BIT AS DESPICABLE as Tuesday's terrorists and you make me ashamed to share your nationality.
- Then get the hell out of here.
- It's sad that for the first time I'm afraid to be brown.
Dear Ted Hennessey, passenger of Flight 11...
I met you once when I picked up my son and your daughter for a playdate a few weeks ago. I remember how much you were loved and the joy you brought to your family. I only hope you felt no pain. You will be sorely missed. Please understand that our family will help yours any way we can. Your memory will live on through your children.
Thank you, Lord, for sparing my father, Francisco Hernandez Jr., WTC, North Tower, 5th floor. I pray for those who were less fortunate.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 19, 2001.