On Monday, Sept. 11, Head of the Upper School Lisa Loeb hosted a special assembly to commemorate the fatal acts of terrorism that had happened 22 years ago on that day.
Mrs. Loeb opened the assembly by explaining the events that took place and cost the lives of over 3000 innocent people. Nineteen al-Qaeda members hijacked four commercial flights with plans to destroy the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon (the United States Department of Defense headquarters), and Washington, D.C.
The first to hit were the Twin Towers in New York City, around 9:00 a.m. that morning. As the buildings collapsed and debris littered the streets, 2,753 civilians and 343 emergency response medics died. Less than an hour later, reports came in about another crash, this time at the Pentagon. Almost 200 people were killed, both those inside the Pentagon and passengers of the flight.
A final plane headed for Washington, D.C. was also hijacked, but passengers resisted, and the terrorists were no longer able to continue with the plan. They instead crashed the plane into a field in Pennsylvania, killing all passengers. As a result of these tragic events, almost every American who was alive in 2001 remembers exactly what they were doing on the morning of September 11.
Among those who passed was KO alumni Jeffrey Bittner, class of 1992. His strong sense of self and will to help those in need lives on through his sister, Pamela Bittner, who began running non-profit events after losing her brother. She also wrote a tribute to her brother in Esquire magazine in 2021, remembering Mr. Bittner 20 years after 9/11.
Mrs. Loeb then told the community what the campus was like in 2001. “Many of the adults in this room were at KO on that day,” she said. “It was Photo Day. The sky that morning was the brightest of blue, and the air was crisp and fresh.” Mrs. Loeb then explained how students and faculty gathered in Roberts Theater as the devastating news flooded in from New York City and Washington, D.C.
It is this sense of community that brings KO students, faculty, and staff together in remembrance of the terrible attacks on 9/11. Mrs. Loeb also highlighted the importance of recognizing our histories. “Each story is different and important,” she said. “Perhaps you’ve been to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, or watched news accounts of that day. Perhaps your own family suffered a loss connected somehow to 9/11.”
During the assembly, seniors in the New York City Literature elective Lucy Ybarra, Alexander Levin, and Aashni Patel read aloud “The Dead of September 11,” a poem written by author Toni Morrison. It commemorates those who passed as a result of the hatred and violence these attacks represented.
As the students returned to their seats, Mrs. Loeb asked the Upper School community to reflect on the importance of Sept. 11. “I hope today’s assembly has made you curious about 9/11, and that you leave wanting to understand it better,” she said. Mrs. Loeb encourages students to discuss any questions or concerns with an advisor, teacher, coach, or other trusted adult on campus.