Witt Professors Remember the Events of 9/11

“Prior to 9/11 we were on top of the world. Everything was going great—we had no enemies, we were at peace, we had won the Cold War, we had more allies than we had enemies. We had nobody that could touch us economically, militarily or politically,” said Mark Egloff from the business department.

Robin Inboden from the English department has worked at Wittenberg for 30 years and Clifford Brown from the psychology department has worked at Witt for 42 years. Both said they were on campus during Sept. 11.

Egloff has worked at Wittenberg for about nine years and worked for Computer Science Corporation where he was a contract negotiator for the Department of Defense during Sept. 11.

Inboden said that morning she woke up, had breakfast and came straight to school without watching the TV. No one was in the English department and Hollenbeck was strangely quiet, when her husband called her and told her a plane had hit the World’s Trade Center, she said.

Meanwhile, Egloff was at work and heard on the radio that a plane had hit the first tower. Brown watched CNN before going to school and at the time there wasn’t much information, but he knew that the first plane had hit.

All the professors were unaware of the impact because they didn’t know the size of the plane or much information in general.

Brown went into his morning class like normal and didn’t understand what was happening until afterwards, said Brown.

“Typically, when something like that happens it’s sort of denial or some explanation that makes it less serious than it truly is. So, I thought maybe somebody had a personal problem or some sort of an accident; maybe they were joyriding and lost control. But basically the idea of making less of it, to me that’s a typical reaction when something really bad happens,” said Brown.

By the time the second plane hit everyone knew it wasn’t an accident said Inboden.

Inboden found faculty and students in the computer lab in Hollenbeck watching the footage and joined them, where a few moments later they all watched the World Trade Center collapse.

Most of the time when something this impactful happens he tries to rationalize and understand it, said Brown. He also said that often times we find that people aren’t as crazy as we think and we find that people aren’t always excepting of the norms of others.

That these people often find their own social groups that reinforce these ideas and beliefs too, said Brown.

“We use the term naive realism and it’s the idea of what I see is reality, therefore what I see is truth. But we all see things differently based [on] our backgrounds and experiences and if we are going to understand other people we need to understand their situations, their backgrounds and how they perceive what is going on. Different people can see the same thing but interpret it differently,” said Brown.

The impact has changed our privacy, freedom and politics—in ways such as airport security, the CIA, stereotyping and discrimination, said Brown.

The turnaround was quick and they immediately shut down all air traffic and had planes that were in flight land, stated Inboden.

There is a lack of confidence in everything now—he said he’s more aware when flying and more aware that people don’t like us, said Egloff

“I think that the concern about globalism is related to that—that sense of hunkering down and circling the wagon. We, being the United States, enjoy being a north American continent so far away from most wars of conflict on the planet that we want to keep it that way. Whenever we feel uncertain we want to basically circle the wagon and keep everything out. My personal opinion is that’s a mistake, the way to deal with those problems is to engage with them,” said Egloff

Wittenberg cancelled class for the remainder of the day, after the first morning class was over and there was a chapel gathering, where faculty and students could come together in prayer for the victims, missing people and families said Inboden and Brown.

The next day Wittenberg continued classes per normal, but people were distraught, said Inboden.

Inboden doesn’t leave the house without checking the news now in fear that something bad could happen.

That entire week was filled with coverage from the media, because more and more information kept coming out, said Inboden and Egloff. The coverage included posters of missing people, people worrying about their friends, lots of damage and piles of flowers, said Inboden.

The media couldn’t cover anything else, because nothing else had enough impact to even compare, said Egloff.

The day felt scary and unpredictable it is unfortunate that people today still demonize Muslims and people from other countries, said Inboden.

“If you go through the world not afraid that everybody is out get you that’s good. If you go through the world thinking that no matter what stupid thing you do nothing bad will happen to you that part is not so good. But I think that not fearing other people just because they’re different is a good thing. That’s a good thing,” stated Inboden.

 

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