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September 11th and the Days After 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6

September 11th and the Days After

Students were in their finest attire, portfolios under their arms, in the throes of Early Interview Week at the Law School while other students were finally breathing more freely having endured their first two weeks of law school. Soon after 9:00 A.M. on September 11th all routine ground to a halt. The Clock lounge in Nicole E. Tanenbaum Hall filled with students, faculty, and staff who stood and sat in silence watching history play out before their eyes on TV. Some were motivated to leave the school immediately to volunteer at emergency sites like the American Red Cross in Center City. Others stayed at the Law School to offer comfort, consolation, and strength to each other.

Two days later, Dean Michael Fitts assembled a panel of law faculty who presented an open forum to discuss what we were facing. Professors Kim Lane Scheppele, Jacques deLisle, Senior Fellow David Rudovsky, adjunct lecturer Harry Reicher, and Gruss Visiting Professor Moshe Halbertal presented a program that was both challenging and moving. At the time, it seemed to offer a salve for the wounds inflicted on the 11th . In retrospect, it demonstrates how, in the immediate aftermath, we were trying to sort out September 11th without a comparable event to guide us. Some predictions have played out, whereas others reveal the unknown terrain on which we have been since that portentous day. Dean Fitts noted that for his generation the defining moment was the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and for this generation September 11th would be the day that defined theirs.

Professor deLisle began, “In the Pentagon situation room today advisors are talking about what response would be lawful. As absurd as I find this to be, I also find it heartening.” He continued, “The saddest irony is in the name of the target - the ‘World Trade Center.’ This is globalization getting back at us as an open society.

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