On Sunday, the 15th anniversary of the attacks on Sept. 11, the University of Michigan’s chapter of Young Americans for Freedom organized their annual tribute on the Diag.
The display of 2,977 American flags — which represent each loss of life from the tragedy — attracted the attention of students, faculty and members of the Ann Arbor community. LSA junior Dominic Stanchina, vice chairman of YAF, noted the unique qualities of his organization’s tribute.
“It’s attention-getting,” he said. “It’s a visually stimulating piece so we can catch people off guard. They see almost 3,000 flags for 3,000 victims and it (makes) them pause.”
YAF secretary Derek Loewen, an LSA junior, said the need for the commemoration is especially relevant in a time when the threat of terrorism still persists.
“It happened 15 years ago and people are already starting to forget about the events, when that sort of terrorism is still relevant today,” he said. “We want to remember and pay respects to those that did lose their lives, but also to remind people that there is still an active threat today and we can’t lose sight of that.”
According to its website, Young Americans for Freedom is a nonprofit, educational organization that devotes itself to promoting the ideas of free enterprise, limited government and a strong national defense. Stanchina said his group’s objectives highlight the importance of commemorating 9/11.
“The ideas that we like to bring to campus, the speakers and the topics we like to embrace and have spoken about, those are the reasons that the attack occurred,” he said. “We feel a special duty to commemorate.”
Captain Chris Dennis, professor of Naval Science and Commanding Officer of the Navy Officer Education Program, said the events from 9/11 affected not only the United States but also the rest of the world, and the act of remembering and reflecting upon it should unite people across the globe.
“Everybody’s heart broke and there was an outpouring of love and support for the United States, and I think really for humanity,” he said. “That for me is what is special about 9/11. That spirit of togetherness and suffering together and reclaiming humanity together.”
Dennis also said the simplicity of Sunday’s commemoration is the most powerful agent for getting people to reflect on the tragedy.
“It’s fairly understated,” he said. “I hope people stop and remember the vulnerability of life and redouble their efforts to work together with one another.”