NU community braces for bad news

Daniel Schack

By Daniel Schack

The Daily Northwestern

Members of the Northwestern community spent Wednesday assessing the damage of Tuesday’s terrorist attacks and sharing their reminiscences from a day of horror.

“We really don’t know the full impact that Tuesday’s tragic events will have on the Northwestern community,” said Vice President for Student Affairs William Banis. “At this point, we’ve not had one report of a student getting a call from home about loss of family member. That’s good news as of this hour, but we don’t think that will hold.”

Indeed, officials learned Wednesday night that Edward Hennessy, Kellogg ’93, was a passenger on American Airlines Flight 11, which hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center at about 8:45 a.m. Tuesday. Hennessy, who lived in Belmont, Mass., was 35.

Vice President for University Relations Al Cubbage said the university is working to confirm that all of its trustees, some of whom worked in and around the World Trade Center, are safe. So far NU has received no reports of students, faculty or other community members being killed or wounded in the attacks.

Many alumni are posting messages reporting that they and their friends are safe on the Web site www.finebrand.com/statuses.

“Most of the news so far has been good for now,” said Richard Honack, director of public relations for the Kellogg School of Management. “We have a lot of alumni who work in the financial district of New York City, and it is good for us that all the news for us has been positive. And we hope it stays that way.”

Counting their blessings

The blast might have claimed the life of incoming freshman Caroline Davis’ father, were he not at a conference in California.

“We were just glad my dad was not sitting at his desk, because now it doesn’t exist,” said Caroline, a Weinberg freshman.

She had been visiting her father, Brig. Gen. Andrew Davis, for the weekend in Washington, where he works at the Pentagon as director of public affairs for the Marines.

Caroline, her mother and 11-year-old sister live just north of campus in Evanston, where Davis is also associate director of NU’s Media Management Center. He left Monday night for a conference on public affairs in the Marines, and the rest of the family planned to return to Evanston on Tuesday after a VIP tour of the White House.

At Davis’ apartment, a block from his office in the Pentagon, the family felt the whole building shake. Of the more than 100 military personnel killed at the Pentagon, none were Davis’ colleagues. The Marines’ offices are on the fifth floor, and although Davis said the blast three floors below knocked them out of their chairs, they were able to leave without getting hurt.

After seeing the smoke and confusion outside, the Davis family returned to the apartment to watch “the horrors unfold” and call friends she knew in New York. When they found that there was an eight-hour wait to donate blood, they visited the National Cathedral.

“If there is any day for me to start going to church, I think it was yesterday, ” Caroline said.

Davis himself heard the news at 4 a.m., checking his e-mail and watching CNN like millions of other Americans. Although he had a priority military aircraft to return him to Washington to avoid the unprecedented air-travel cancellations across America, he still labeled his return home a “20-hour hitch-hiking odyssey.”

He boarded a military jet at Miramar Air Force Base and flew to Kansas City’s Whiteman Air Force Base, where the jet’s breaks failed and rolled 12,000 feet on the runway before it stopped. He then boarded an Air Force cargo jet filled with first aid kits that was headed for Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. He then hired a car and drove two and a half hours to Washington.

After an hour and a half of sleep, he had one of two operations and intelligence briefings for the day, at 11 a.m. And he finally reunited with his family, whom he first thought of when he heard the news.

“It was a good hug,” said his wife, Margaret Bergan Davis. “I’m very glad that our family could be together.”

‘I have to get out of here’

Weinberg senior James Wang was taking pictures in Chinatown, New York when the first plane hit the World Trade Center. He said he heard “a really loud sound … and all the birds in the trees flew up.” He saw the building on fire and began running towards it.

“I was a moron, it was the exact opposite of what you should do,” he said.

As he ran towards the building, he saw people leaping from the hole in the building.

“I saw this one lady jump out, she was wearing a white dress,” he said. “She had a white dress with really bright red and orange flames on her. She stopped and looked out, she was taking it all in. Then she just fell.”

Wang reached the bottom of the World Trade Center about seven minutes after the first plane hit, and he was taking pictures of the first building when the second plane struck.

“I didn’t see the plane, I just saw explosion,” he said. “Everything shook. The ground shook, the air shook. … Right above me metal shrapnel and glass were falling. It was so high up I could see it, and it was taking a while to fall, and I thought, ‘What am I doing?’

“I turned around and there was a building behind me and I ran right into it. I almost got locked into the building. A security guard led us down into the basement … and led us into dead-end, so we turned around and ran up. The stairs were locked, but someone opened it from other side.

“I ran out and went out the same entrance I came in. I turned and booked it uptown … and I didn’t look back. I never saw the two towers collapse. I think I heard them collapse, but my adrenaline was running so high, I could just think, ‘I have to get out of here.'”

Speech senior Sari Schwartz said her father felt a concussion run through his train, which was heading to a courthouse next to the World Trade Center. On the ground above the subway, she said he saw two gaping holes , thinking first that bombs had hit.

“He said it looked like the end of the world,” Schwartz said. “People were running; people were helping each other.”

They reunited after he walked from Manhattan to his Brooklyn home, which was now covered in black soot.

“Every time I watch the television, I can’t believe it’s the same skyline,” Schwartz said.

“There’s nowhere I’d rather be right now than with my family.”

Speech sophomore Lindsay Roth gathered with others in Long Island to watch the day’s events unfold.

“People were gathered around electronics shops to watch the TVs to know what was going on,” Roth said. “People were in the streets not knowing what to do. You just couldn’t get out of the city. It was unbelievable – everyone called to see if we were OK.”

DC drama

Former ASG President Adam Humann, Weinberg ’01, works at a Washington law firm a mile and half from the Pentagon and next door to FBI headquarters. He watched the Pentagon burn from his building’s observation deck and could see airplanes land at Washington’s National Airport.

“You couldn’t tell until the last minute what plane was flying in; whether they were national, military jets or some terrorist targeting the FBI headquarters,” he said. “I’ve never felt like my life was in danger before, but I definitely did yesterday.”

Education junior Becky Berlin, who is spending Fall Quarter at American University in Washington as part of a seminar and internship program, was on her way to hear a speech at a building on Dupont Circle on Tuesday morning when she heard about the attacks on the World Trade Center. When she reached the location of the speech, she said, everyone was watching television. Soon after, the news about the Pentagon was broadcast.

“From our building, you could see smoke,” Berlin said. “There were people on top of other buildings, looking across the city to the Pentagon.”

Berlin, who is interning for Sens. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.), said her classes were canceled Tuesday and today but that she will go back to work Thursday.

But, she said, the mood in Washington has been anything but no
rmal.

“(Tuesday) was just chaotic, to say the least,” she said. “A lot of people (today) are doing nothing, just watching TV in a state of shock.”

Stranded

The attacks also wreaked havoc with travel plans for students and faculty members. School of Music Dean Bernard Dobroski is stranded with a group of musical theater students in San Francisco, where they were performing for alumni. They canceled the rest of the performances of “Ain’t Misbehavin’.”

“We could not be creating a musical when people are grieving and dying,” Dobroski said.