By Benjamin Engle
Under sunny and clear skies and moderate temperatures, much like the weather conditions on the infamous day of Sept. 11, 2001, Union College students gathered on Sept. 10, the day before the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks, in honor of the almost 3,000 victims from New York City’s World Trade Center, Washington D.C.’s Pentagon, and those from Flight 93 that crashed in a Pennsylvania field.
Sponsored by the newly revived Union College Republicans club, students of all political backgrounds were invited to help place approximately 3000 flags on the lawn around the flagpole near the Terrace Wall.
Vice President of Union College Republicans Olivia O’Malley ‘14 came up with the flag-planting project, known as the 9/11 Never Forget Memorial, in June.
The organization worked with the Young America’s Foundation, a youth outreach organization of the conservative movement, on the project.“The goal was to create awareness, since it is easy to forget the importance and magnitude of [9/11],” stated Nick D’Angelo ‘14, President of the Union College Republicans club.
The group wanted to create a physical representation of the loss of 9/11 to remember those who innocently lost their lives on that day.“About 30 students and community members attended,” D’Angelo said. “[The flag memorial] builds a conversation and creates a dialogue since the point is to never forget.”
Among those who attended the flag planting was Union College’s 17th president and Schenectady mayoral candidate, Roger Hull.“There are certain days you will never forget,” Hull said. “For my parents, it was Dec. 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor. For me it was Nov. 22, 1963, the assassination of President Kennedy; and everyone will remember [9/11] clearly.”
D’Angelo stated that the group would continue to remember those lost and support organizations devoted to promoting the cause.The Union College Republicans will be sponsoring a table in Reamer Campus Center throughout the week, where they will sell 9/11 buttons and stickers to students. The proceeds will be donated to the 9/11 Foundation, as well as used to offset the cost of the flags.
In the future, the Union College Republicans plan on organizing events to support the Homes for our Troops foundation. According to its website, the foundation was established in 2004 and builds and provides homes for veterans who have sustained disabilities and injuries since Sept. 11, 2001.
According to the Union College website and the Sept. 26, 2002 edition of the Concordiensis, the Union community last participated in a flag planting ceremony a year after the tragic events. In honor of the one-year anniversary, 3000 flags were planted between Roger Hull Plaza (formerly known as Schaffer Library Plaza) and the Nott Memorial. The remembrance ceremony, which was held in conjunction that year with the annual convocation, concluded with a candlelit ceremony around the red, white and blue flags.
Hull described the placing of the flags as a very moving experience. He recalled that they remained planted for more than a month.
Hull reflected on his time on campus on the days following the attacks and he stated that the students at the time came together in a way he had never seen before.
“What was most impressive as an individual,” Hull said, “was that 300 million people seemed to come together [following Sept. 11, 2001].”