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Letters from alumni about the Class of 2002 beer jacket

February 25, 2002

I was struck by the juxtaposition in the February 13, 2002, issue, of the beer jacket fracas with the last item in the memorials section celebrating the beautiful spirit that is "Cat" MacRae ’00.

It is sad that the class must be so riven in their final days together.

It seems to me that the red, white, and blue ribbon (colors standing for courage, purity of purpose, and honor) can be interpreted in a number of ways, perhaps most simply as a memorial to those Princetonians (so elegantly remembered on a PAW cover) and citizens of many nations whose lives were cut short by the attack on civilization.

Surely, even international students and peace activists would not object to a memorial? And if they did they could defer their resentment until after the class came together at graduation and then burn their beer jackets.
America allows that freedom.

Bob Koch ’62
Waccabuc, N.Y.

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February 25, 2002

To the members of the Class of 2002 who "did not want to think of tragedy while chugging beer" (On the Campus, February 13, 2002): In deciding whether or not to display a red, white, and blue ribbon on Reunions beer jackets, Princeton students make a choice not unlike that made recently by organizers of both the Olympics and the Super Bowl: Can we celebrate and cheer, while also honoring and mourning the lives lost on September 11? For me, these events demonstrated that youthful revelry and somber remembrance can and must coexist – if anything, our post-September 11 reality insists that we must continue to live passionately, while remembering the lasting horror of that day.

Although many Princetonians (myself included) might elevate our annual reunions to the international significance of the Olympics, I recognize that these ribbons are not really a big deal. So wear one or don’t. But if you decide to decline, remember that these ribbons are simply a quiet acknowledgment of our shared grief. And while I pray that those who have declined the ribbon were not personally touched by the September 11 attack, many Americans — among them the family and friends of 13 Princetonians — continue to live with the painful weight of loss every day. That some cannot acknowledge them, lest it interfere with scheduled fun, saddens me enormously.

In short: remembering September 11 does not mean we put a halt to our good times. On the contrary: march in your first P-rade, jump in the fountain, revel in the bacchanalia that is Princeton Reunions — but keep with you the memory of the many friends and strangers lost on that tragic September morning. I also ask the university to make such ribbons available to other revelers to attach to their own beer jackets – I would certainly welcome the opportunity to wear one on my own.

Taylor Sykes ’00
Raleigh, N.C.

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