“The events of September 11, 2001 will stay with us for the rest of our lives,” wrote the leaders of the UC Davis Jewish Student Union three weeks after the Twin Towers fell (The California Aggie, October 2, 2001). For many of us who lived through the most deadly terrorist attack on American soil — even if we lived through it from thousands of miles away in California — that’s been true.
Whether you were there or not, whether you knew anyone who was there or not, it was a national tragedy that we all experienced together.
As students returned to campus for the start of Fall Quarter just weeks after the attack, then Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef published a welcome message in The California Aggie (October 1, 2001) that emphasized the power of new beginnings to “remind us that we can and will go on.”
Now, 20 years later, we are preparing to return to campus in the wake of another shared trauma. In some ways, the events are polar opposites: the COVID-19 pandemic has dragged on for more than a year; the 9/11 attacks unfolded in less than an hour. But both events changed everything, because they changed us.
Here at the library — a place where we preserve history — we have been looking back at how the UC Davis community responded to 9/11. And in those stories, the spirit of unity, resilience and tolerance that come through in the archives from 20 years ago still echo strongly today.
Resources for Understanding 9/11
- Find out how UC Davis came together after the 9/11 attacks.
- Discover more of former Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef’s reflections on Sept. 11 and its aftermath on campus in his memoir, Indelibly Davis (page 18) and his draft manuscripts for the book held in the library’s Archives and Special Collections.
- Read the stories of those who lost loved ones, and those who survived, in Smithsonian’s powerful collection of short remembrances.
- Listen to voices from that day in this video created by TSA.
- Learn about the lasting impact of 9/11 in these two books by UC Davis Professor of Asian American Studies Sunaina Maira:
- And below, more excerpts of how The California Aggie covered 9/11 in the weeks following the attacks and in the years since.