11 SEP 01: University of Michigan Students react in the Michigan League to the replayed images of the World Trade Center being hit by airplanes. Officials said they firmly believed exiled Saudi millionaire Osama bin Laden organized the devastating terrorist attacks on New York and Washington DC.  Danny Moloshok/Daily. Buy this photo.

Sept. 11, 2021, marks the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. 

On that day, four commercial airliners were hijacked by Al-Qaeda terrorists. At 8:46 a.m., American Airlines Flight 11 flew into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Just seventeen minutes later, United Airlines Flight 175 flew into the South Tower. At 9:37 a.m., American Airlines Flight 77 hit the Pentagon. And, at 10:03 a.m., United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. 

Nearly 3,000 people died that day. Among those lives lost was the president of the New York City chapter of the University of Michigan’s alumni association, Jim Gartenberg. Gartenberg worked on the 86th floor of the North Tower for Julien J. Studley Inc., a commercial real estate firm, according to a Sept. 16, 2001, Michigan Daily article. 

Merideth Whalen, a recent graduate of the University of Michigan Business School, worked as a research analyst for Fred Alger Management Inc. on the 93rd floor of the North Tower. Whalen’s mother, Patricia Whalen, told The Daily in the days that followed the attack that she was sure Meredith was killed “because the plane entered the building on the floor Meredith worked on and the heat would have been too intense for her to survive.” Merideth was 23 years old. 

The gravity of the attacks continue to weigh on the United States and the rest of the world. As we approach the 20th anniversary of 9/11, we are confronted with a new reality: some of Michigan’s undergraduate students were not yet born at the time of the attacks, and most of those who were alive likely have no recollection of that day. 

As that day moves further into the past, the intense reality of that day increasingly distant from our current one, our generation will begin to approach 9/11 as a matter of history. 

For that reason, The Daily’s archive serves as an important primary source for this photo essay. Photos captured by Daily photographer Danny Moloshok and articles written by Daily reporters on Sept. 11 allow undergraduate students to glance into what campus was like on that day and those that followed. 

11 SEP 01: The Rock is painted “Bin Laden Must Die” after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The Rock is a way for different student groups to express their feelings. The words were painted over just 20 minutes after with Patriotic symbols. Danny Moloshok/Daily. Buy this photo.

Reports say that classes were canceled at around noon that Tuesday.  

Roughly 15,000 people gathered on the Diag on the evening of Sept. 11 for a candlelight vigil, according to Daily articles. It was the largest gathering of its kind in University history. 

“Quiet, solemn and respectful, students, faculty, staff and administrators still in shock and quite unsure of what the future holds gathered to comfort one another. Since most students are away from home, it is the University community that must serve as one large family,” wrote the Michigan Daily Staff.

11 SEP 01: A group of student console one another at the vigil held on the Diag. Danny Moloshok /Daily. Buy this photo.
11 SEP 01: Flags are raised in the Diag with the Burton Memorial Tower looming in the background. Danny Moloshok/Daily. Buy this photo.

Daily reports from the time show that Arab and Muslim students on campus received e-mail threats. LSA junior Brenda Abdelall, who at the time served as the external relations chair of the Arab Student Association, sought “support and encouragement” for her community from the Michigan Student Assembly. Abdelall said members of her community were also receiving messages of support for Arab Americans, according to an article written by The Daily. “We’ve been getting a lot of very sweet e-mails,” Abdelall said.

In the days that followed, the University postponed a home game for the first time since Nov. 23, 1963, the day after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Sororities postponed rush. And students organized to assist and honor victims of the attacks. 

11 SEP 01: Flags are raised in the Diag as some University of Michigan students came together to mourn the victims of the 9/11 attacks. Danny Moloshok/Daily. Buy this photo.

Let us remember 9/11. Let us learn from the past in order to build a better future. 

Senior Multimedia Photo Editor Emma Mati can be reached at emati@umich.edu.