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
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.
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 dont.
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.