Uncertainty follows unthinkable in Portland, nation, world

Phone calls went out across the nation to loved ones in cities around the world. Almost everyone in this nation felt sorrow for the loss, confusion about the events and uncertainty as the unfolding moments produced tears and talk everywhere. President Daniel Bernstine reached out to all students and faculty with a heartfelt letter and sincere voicemail message.

President Bernstine’s letter was e-mailed to every Odin account and his voicemail was left on every system voicemail. His letter begins by stating, “Today I am as shocked and as stunned as you are about the tragic events occurring throughout the country.” The letter concludes with the statement, “This is a tragic day; my thoughts and prayers are with you and those affected by this tragedy.” Bernstine reached out to the campus community with his immediate response. His swift response was a call to action that encouraged people to give blood and refrain from cell phone use.

As the events unfolded, students gathered around televisions on campus. The university equipped the second floor of the Smith Memorial Center with a large television, and students watched as the initial events took place. The world came to a screeching halt as rescue crews began to sift through burning rubble in New York City and Washington D.C.

The buzzing activity of a sunny day in the South Park Blocks was silenced by news of the tragic and unthinkable events. Portland news crews were scouring the blocks, looking for people willing to talk to the cameras. On any other day, PSU students would not shy away from the cameras as they did the day of the tragic events. The unthinkable had happened and the loss was unspeakable.

The sheer statistics are staggering and the numbers continue to roll off of the newscaster’s lips like a laundry list of unimaginable facts. People walked around but the high campus energy was darkened and a daze set in for most people.

All throughout the week, the second floor of Smith became a hub for people of all ages, sizes and colors. People were genuinely concerned and aware of the serious state of our nation and world. While people watched the images flash before their eyes, amazement and disgust simultaneously existed in the faces of the observers.

Patriotism has budded, flowered and spread in less than one week. The day after the event, Wal-mart reported that they sold 88,000 flags in one day. The American superpower has been questioned by terrorism but Americans are uniting in full force by prayers, by patriotism but most logistically important, by giving blood. The American Red Cross has had an amazing turnout of blood donors. They have even had to turn away donors because of overloaded facilities. The Red Cross encourages all donations and suggests making an appointment to ease the overflow of walk-in donors. Since Portlanders are nearly 3,000 miles away, the gift of blood is one way students can make a difference and “give the gift of life.” America has proven its solidarity to the world by coming together to aid victims of terrorist attacks.

In the days following the attacks, the government and military have moved into position for war. Navy ships are now patrolling and protecting harbors while everyone is on high alert. Although few students were on campus during last week’s events, the state of our nation became a reality for students sitting in the Park Blocks. People were outside talking and trying to escape the magnetism of the television set when loud plane sounds came from overhead. People began peering around, looking for the origin of the noises. It sounded like a plane, but all air traffic was banned. Once the plane came into view, an older man shouted, “That’s an F-16 fighter jet!” The air force patrolled the northwest for days to ensure that the territory from the Canadian border to California was secured.

As the chaos filters into American homes via television and other media outlets,the unleashed horror must be faced. The Counseling and Psychological services at PSU have been on duty and ready to assist any peoples trying to cope with this tragedy. Michelle Kirton, psychologist at CAPS, said that all students are welcome by appointment and walk-in to discuss the tragedy. She commented, “Most people are still in a state of shock and that is totally normal. It is important to talk to others about what they are witnessing and what is going on. Most people are feeling strong emotions and that is completely normal.” Kirton suggests that open dialogue is one of the best ways to psychologically deal with such a traumatic event.

Portland had demonstrated both solidarity and compassion. Pioneer Courthouse Square, nicknamed Portland’s living room, hosts open grieving with long rolls of butcher papers filled with heartfelt messages, psychological services on-hand and a Red Cross bloodmobile. The outpouring of support, solidarity and concern on campus and in Portland is overwhelming.