November 7, 2001: From the Editor
The Hartford Courant reporter
wanted to know why. Why is PAW running personal remembrances of the alumni
who were victims of the terrorist strikes? he asked. Why had we decided
to handle it this way?
He called me on October 2,
three weeks after the attacks and as I was in the midst of asking family
members and friends and roommates and teammates to sum up their feelings
of loss and memories of joy in 300 words. I had already talked to the
reporter for 20 solid minutes it was therapy, I recognized that
and now he was asking me why, even though he surely knew the answers
as well as I did.
First, I said, it is a way
of showing that their lives had meaning, that even though their lives
were too short they meant so much to so many.
It is a way of putting stories
and faces to the unthinkable numbers, in the faint hope that the very
act of scaling down the horror to the size of human comprehension might
somehow convey its magnitude.
It is a way of demonstrating
the closeness of the Princeton community, that a stranger from Princeton
could call or e-mail family members and friends looking for someone to
write down memories and one, then two, then six people would offer up
their stories and volunteer their time and say it was an honor to do so.
What I understood later, after
I had hung up with the reporter, is that it is also a way of granting
immortality to the 13 people whose stories appear in these pages. When
in 50 or 100 years the editor of PAW or the president of the university
or the keeper of the Princeton archives pages back through the years to
see how PAW chronicled the violence of September 11, 2001, they will find
these names and they will read about these lives and they will appreciate
in some small measure our loss.
They dont feel like much, these words that we lay down, but they are all we have. And that is the answer to the reporters question.