9/11 Memorial

Dozens of small American flags fly on Old Main Lawn for the 9/11 Memorial, which was held by Penn State College Republicans on Tuesday morning, Sept. 11, 2018.

This year marks 18 years since the largest terrorist attack in the history of the United States, and it still affects people’s lives to this day. 

Everyone who was old enough to watch the twin towers collapse on television or hear the news of the crashes in Shanksville, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. remember exactly where they were or what they were doing when the attacks happened.

Jackie Dillion-Fast, global news collections and services coordinator at Penn State’s Paterno Library, remembers the day started joyfully and full of excitement, and quickly changed to terror and panic.

“My daughter was 6 years old and was starting her first day of school in a special program for homeschooled kids. All of the parents were sitting around while the children were settling in, and preparing for class when a parent who had seen the first plane crash ran in and told us,” Dillion-Fast said. “As parents trickled in, we’d hear more bits and pieces. As it got worse and worse, we’d grow more panicked, but had to bottle it up for the sake of not startling the children.”

Dillion-Fast’s panic worsened as contact with her husband was cut off due to military protocol.

“There was a panicked sense of, ‘We have to go somewhere, we have to do something,’” Dillion-Fast said. “My husband was on a military base in northern California, and they immediately shut down the base. There was no communication in or out because they knew as much as the rest of America did.”

Amanda Means said that although she was just a child, the repercussions of 9/11 plane hijackings could have resulted in the loss of her father. 

“My mom says that we were in the living room watching television when the attack started and she immediately feared that my father was in danger because he was a pilot,” Means (junior-kinesiology) said. “My father was flying domestically, but since some flights are grounded and others had to fly for hours, my mom had no idea where he was.”

Flight 93 Memorial, Shanksville Volunteer Fire Department memorial

A large cross with the date 9/11/01 and an American flag draped behind it stands outside the Shanksville Volunteer Fire Department on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018.

The terrorist attacks on 9/11 have left a lasting impact on not just Americans, but international students as well, including Amin Davoodi.

“I was 15 years old and living in my home country of Iran when the attack transpired. Watching the attack, my family, my friends and I were extremely saddened and angered because we knew the consequences that would arise,” Davoodi (graduate-education) said. “Anytime that somebody from a certain religious background or ethnicity does something horrific like that, it influences everybody.”

Davoodi, who was studying English extensively at the time of the attacks, said he felt profiled even in school by his pen pals.

“I had all of these pen pals abroad that I feared were going to change the way they treated me because I was from Iran, and honestly speaking, I lost contact with most of my pen pals,” Davoodi said. “Learning English was already hard enough, as there were barely any native English-speaking people, but following the attacks, tourists stopped coming to my country because it was in the Middle East.”

The visiting doctoral student from Texas A&M University feared that due to the attacks, people's view of him would jeopardize his long term plan to study, reside and travel in America.

“I still feel the consequences and influence of the attack on my personal life,” Davoodi said. “Since I am Middle Eastern, I only get my student visa for two years instead of the typical five for doctoral students. I’m also only allowed single entry to the United States rather than multiple visa entry like other countries. To this day, my wife and I are still pulled aside at airports as well.”

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