The High School Student News Site of The American School in London

The Standard

The High School Student News Site of The American School in London

The Standard

9/11 not recognized


The memory of September 11 is one ingrained in the minds of all who were alive on that day; a day in which America was under attack. Four passenger airliners were hijacked by 19 al-Qaeda terrorists and flown into buildings in a series of coordinated terrorist attacks. The attack resulted in 2,996 deaths. This year, for the second year in a row, the school did not recognize the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Social Studies Teacher Howie Powers had been living in London for 10 days on September 11, 2001. Although thousands of miles removed, Powers was still deeply affected by the attacks in America, having lost one of his best friends that day on the 102nd floor of the twin towers.

Principal Jack Phillips made the decision to not recognize this day for two reasons. The first reason was that the importance of September 11 wasn’t brought to Phillips’ attention until September 10, the day before.

Upon being reminded of the upcoming anniversary, Phillips discovered that although the first 10 years after September 11 had been memorialized, the eleventh year had not been memorialized.

Phillips’ decision was also based upon past experience commemorating September 11 at his previous school, Phoenix Country Day School.

As it turned out, there were students in the audience whom September 11 had deeply affected.  “For many of them, they had closed this chapter in their lives and I went on stage and reopened it for them … I didn’t think through how this day potentially impacts every single member in this community,” Phillips said.

Due to this experience, Phillips  was reluctant to memorialize September 11 this year.

Erik Hess (’14) nearly lost his uncle, a firefighter, during the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers. His uncle was buried under rubble when the building collapsed on him, and he now has permanent lung damage. Hess feels that there should have been some sort of remembrance for September 11 at the school. “Here we might still be a little isolated from it but we’re still Americans and that was the biggest terrorist attack on America; the school should recognize it,” he said.

Powers was unsure about the statement that the High School made by not recognizing September 11. “It is always unclear to me when, and I talked to my students about this, memories become history,” he said. “I think 9/11 is going through that. It is a memory becoming history. I don’t think there is an absolute right answer … When is the right year to let it go into history?”


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