By Charlotte Lehman
Tragedy unites a nation. In 1941, the attack on Pearl Harbor rallied the country into World War II. Similarly, in 1963, the assassination of John F. Kennedy erased party lines, if only for a small period. These sobering and somber moments displace the partisan divides in our country as we lean on one another for comfort, support and understanding. For our generation, the single unifying event will always be the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Though eleven years have passed, we are still united. Members from both the College Democrats and College Republicans gathered last Sunday to plant over 2,000 small flags in memory of the victims of 9/11. These flags stand beneath the flagpole, across from the Nott Memorial, a solemn, quiet reminder of the lives lost that bright Tuesday.
We have been asked if there would be a ceremony, staging or event to mark the creation of the memorial and the answer was always no. The flags themselves are as powerful and passionate an image as any display of pomp or grandeur. The memorial will remain erected for two weeks. As you pass the flags, take a moment to stop and reflect.
Originally, thousands of flags were placed around campus on the one-year anniversary in 2002. A year ago, the Union College Republicans revitalized itself through the reintroduction of this memorial to our campus. This year, as the College Democrats begin their own revitalization, the groups joined together to pay tribute to a defining day in our nation’s history and that of our own generation.
Though the flags do serve as a tribute, they are also part of a larger focus on pealing away the harsh and rigid lines of political partisanship in the United States of America.
In a presidential election year that has been fiercely polarized, it is important to recognize the camaraderie that we feel, whether or not it is obvious, as Americans. The two of us do not agree on much. When it comes to fiscal, social or national policy, our difference in opinions could hardly be starker. Despite that, there has never been any disagreement that we both work in the best interest of our country. In contrast with the political hostility that characterizes Washington today, Union’s Democrats and Republicans strive to create a friendlier political climate that fosters understanding and discussion. The flags serve as a reminder of both the lives lost, and the belief that despite our differences, we are all Americans.
They are a reminder to our Union community that often times it is important to put our differences aside and come together as one indivisible nation.