For University students walking through the Diag Tuesday, it was impossible to miss the 2,977 flags covering the grass in memory of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.
The flags were part of the 9/11: Never Forget Project, held by the University’s chapter of College Republicans and the Young America’s Foundation — a national conservative political organization that has been holding similar events at campuses across the country since 2003. Donations for Freedom Alliance and Michigan Remembers 9-11 were also collected throughout the day, and a candlelight vigil was held at 9 p.m.
LSA senior Rachel Jankowski, chair of the University’s chapter of College Republicans, said she organized the vigil as a way to honor the friends and family members of University students who were affected by the terrorist attacks 11 years ago.
“(The vigil) touches so many students on this campus, not only the event but the people that were affected by it,” Jankowski said. “There have been so many people that have come up today and said that they were from New York or New Jersey … it touched everyone, especially on this campus.”
During the vigil, tea lights surrounded the flags as a wide circle of students observed a moment of silence to remember the victims.
Jankowski said the purpose of the event was to honor the victims in an apolitical atmosphere, even though the Republicans sponsored the event.
“This event is supposed to be non-partisan, it’s not about any human division that we have, so it shouldn’t be about our political affiliation, race or our gender or anything like that,” Jankowski said. “We’re all Americans and we’re all affected by it.”
LSA senior Sarah Huston, a naval ROTC member who also contributed to planning the event, said she was impressed with the level of support the event received from students and the ROTC in the past two years.
“I wasn’t sure how the donations were going to go over and it actually went over really well,” Huston said. “We raised a couple hundred dollars last year, and a lot of it was students. They’ve been very supportive and it’s nice to see that.”
Huston added that about half of her battalion visited the memorial over the course of the day to assist with the event and pay their respects.
LSA junior Russ Hayes, the internal vice chair of the College Republicans, said the vigil was designed as a time for individual consideration of the attacks and the people they influenced.
“I’ve seen a lot of folks standing and reflecting and I think that’s the important thing,” Hayes said. “It’s a great opportunity to remember.”
LSA senior Talia Horwitz visited the memorial on her way to class during the day and returned for the vigil Tuesday night. She said the display inspired her to give more consideration to those who were and are still influenced by the events of 9/11.
“I’ve never really taken a moment to think about who has been affected, but right now I want to take that time to reflect,” Horwitz said.
LSA sophomore John Borger, an Army ROTC member, attended the vigil Tuesday night. He said it was an important time to show appreciation for members of the U.S. military who still serve overseas.
“It’s important for us to remember what we all woke to that morning, what the soldiers sacrifice for us day in and day out,” Borger said.