Many students, faculty and community members stopped for a few seconds during their commute to reflect on the 2,977 miniature American flags positioned on the Diag, each symbolizing a life lost on September 11, 2001.
The flags were arranged on the Diag by members of the student group Young Americans for Freedom to commemorate the 14th anniversary of the attacks. About 15 students began planting the flags at 7 a.m.
LSA sophomore Grant Strobl, chairman of the University’s YAF chapter, helped organize the display. He said with every new freshman class, the number of students who remember 9/11 diminishes. He said a display on the Diag is important to keep the memory of the lives lost on that day alive.
“We are doing it because freshmen at the University were as young as three years old when the attacks happened,” Strobl said. “This memorial serves as a remembrance of what happened on that day 14 years ago.”
YAF vice chair Samantha Audia, an LSA senior, said though 9/11 was a national tragedy, the display is meant to remind students of how the country came together and supported both the victims and each other on that day.
“It is important that we unite the University of Michigan community in commemorating the lives that were lost on that day and bringing the message of hope to the campus on what is otherwise a very tragic day,” Audia said.
Many community members told Strobl how touched they were by the display. Strobl said he encountered positive reactions from numerous people throughout the day, including veterans, police officers and students with family members lost to the attacks.
Strobl said the display also serves as a reminder to cherish the American values and freedoms that were attacked on that day. He said students must not forget the freedoms they enjoy, like free speech and the right to protest, have been fought and sacrificed for.
“What students can take away from this is that they should not take the way of life at the University of Michigan for granted,” he said. “We were attacked that day for that way of life, and we continue to fight for that way of life even to this day.”
LSA senior Michael Garbose is not part of YAF, but helped arrange the flags with the group earlier in the morning. He said the display was a great way to respect the lives lost on 9/11, without having strong political connotations.
“It changed everything, it changed our national consciousness, it changed United States foreign policy,” Garbose said. “I think it’s just a great way for us to come together.”
Garbose added that even when the day ends, students should continue to remember and honor the sacrifices made on 9/11.
“People say every day should be Mother’s Day, every day should be Father’s Day, not every day should be 9/11,” Garbose said. “But every day we should remember the tremendous sacrifice and courage by everyone on that day.”