CCI event reflects on American response to 9/11, urges students to carry on remembrance

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While speaking at a 9/11 anniversary event at Franklin Hall on Sept. 11, 2018, Chuck Banks informed Kent State students that 8 miles away from the CIA Directors location was the Pentagon. “We knew it was a terrorist attack, but it happened so quick… I called my wife… I called my sons… I even called my mother in Maryland… I felt I needed to hear everyone’s voice before I could get back to work.”

Maria McGinnis

Seventeen years ago, the nation experienced a sudden tragedy that changed the course of American history forever.

For some, 9/11 remains so vivid it’s hard to believe it happened nearly two decades ago. For others, the day is nothing more than a history lesson taught in school and understood through those who can recall the tragedy today.

Chuck Banks — a retired CIA executive, Army veteran and international logistics consultant — spoke on the “sacrifices and heroism of 9/11 and why 9/11 matters in 2018” Tuesday evening in Franklin Hall. Kent State’s CCI Explore program organized the event, called “The CIA and the 9/11 Generation: Reflections on Why 9/11 Matters Today.”

Banks led an audience of students, faculty and community members through a timeline of the events leading up to 9/11, events during the attack and the responses that followed.

The speech consisted of play-by-play reflection and personal anecdotes from Bank’s experiences as a CIA executive during the time of 9/11.

After the reality of the attack set in, Banks and his fellow CIA team members took refuge in the basement of their office as they planned their next course of action and awaited further instruction.

“I just remember calling my wife and kids and even my mother in Maryland,” Banks said. “I knew it was completely illogical. I just felt the need to hear everyone’s voice.”

Banks describes the war in Afghanistan as “bizarre” because of how long it has lasted without any real resolutions.

“The war in Afghanistan is longer than World War I and II and the Korean War combined,” he said.

Banks added it has come to a point where we “don’t have the stomach to leave the war or a plan to win it.”

“I fully support anyone that goes to fight for our country, but I don’t want to lose anymore people without being able to explain to their parents why they’re going,” he said.

Banks said he wants young college students to understand the importance of commemorating 9/11 today because the effects are still rippling. Many students in the audience were too young to remember what they were doing on 9/11.

“People need to know we’re still at war in Afghanistan and sending soldiers to fight and die because of 9/11,” he said.

Stephanie Smith, an assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, said this is the first event of its kind, and CCI Explore organized the event to “provide students and faculty deeper understanding of contemporary global events.”

“This event aims to help the Kent State community, across and beyond CCI, gain new insights into America’s response to 9/11,” Smith said. “Many undergraduate students have no direct memory of the events of 9/11, which may make it more difficult for them to understand how 9/11 affects their lives today.”

The turnout of the event was so large that there were two rooms of overflow for audience members to watch the live recording of Bank’s speech.

Banks gave students with a desire to serve the country or work in any form of communication or government service some advice: “Take some risks” and be active members in the community.

Banks recommended voting, volunteering, taking advantage of receiving an education and sharing and further developing ideas with others.

“Just because you’re young doesn’t mean your voice doesn’t matter and shouldn’t be heard,” Banks said.

Maria McGinnis is a features reporter. Contact her at [email protected]