GVSU hosts prize-winning journalist at Fall Arts
Laurie Garrett, a decorated journalist and author, will visit Grand Rapids to give a presentation about
her book, “I Heard the Sirens Scream,” on Oct. 7. The event is part of the Grand Valley State University
2013 Fall Arts Celebration.
Garrett will be speaking in the Eberhard Center on the Pew Campus at 7 p.m. She will be lecturing
about Sept. 11 and the series of anthrax attacks following the terrorist attack. She will also be
speaking to a few classes the following day.
As the author of three books, she is an expert on global and public health. Garrett has won a Peabody
award, a Pulitzer Prize and two Polk awards for her writing.
Garrett, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, said she hopes students will realize the impact
Sept. 11 had on current crises the U.S. government faces.
“For most students, Sept. 11 occurred when (they) were children,” Garrett said. “I would hope that
students come away realizing just how crazy that time was. It brought out all the inadequacies of how
to deal with it.”
In the end, Garrett said she hopes there will be improvements, but there is still a long way to go.
“We have a skeptical America, a country that is deeply divided and a country where the factions
distrust each other,” she said. “For (the students’) generation this might seem normal, but this is not
the America we had before Sept. 11. A lot of the crises we face today are based on the decisions made
after the attacks.”
The lecture will touch on global health and the response Americans had to the anthrax threats that
occurred after Sept. 11. All students are welcome to the free event, which will be followed by a
reception and book signing.
“I think she is a very relevant speaker for our student body and the community, because we have the
Medical Mile and a lot of good hospitals,” journalism professor Vandana Pednekar-Magal said. “We
have lots of health sciences students. Plus, she’s a journalist and has written a lot about these issues.
In that sense, she’s relevant for journalism and writing major students, too.”
Garrett explained that the way the nation reacted to the events after Sept. 11 is why the U.S. is so
“We have mistakenly talked about (Sept. 11) in terms of one event,” Garrett said. “In terms of the
people and fearfulness, it’s a single event that arcs out through the end of (2001) through anthrax. It
started with unity, but by the time the anthrax attacks were a month in, the fact that the government
could not give reasonable answers led to tremendous disunity. By Christmas time that year, we were a
divided nation. And this propelled us to today.”