At noon on Wednesday, students gathered in front of Mossey Library to honor the victims of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Young Americans for Freedom Secretary Arielle Muller remarked on the events of that morning, followed by a prayer offered by Hillsdale College Chaplain Peter Beckwith remembering the passengers, the first responders, and the families of all affected. Taps echoed across campus to conclude the ceremony.
The memorial was notably shorter than it has been in the past.
“In previous years, it sometimes has become overly politicized and more about the ceremony rather than the actual victims,” said Sam Holdeman, trustee for the College Republicans. “The goal this year is to remember the victims of 9/11.”
The former political ceremony was replaced with a simple commemoration.
“A lot of us were very young when the 9/11 attacks occurred,” Holdeman said. “It’s really defined us as a generation. Our life, and our country, our social culture, our fabric. Remembering those victims and what they gave is very, very important.”
This year’s memorial featured a display of hundreds of American flags-visual representations of each death. In addition to the 2,977 flags honoring the 2001 victims, four larger flags represented the deaths in the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012.
The event, a cooperative effort of Hillsdale’s chapter of Young Americans for Freedom and College Republicans, was the 11th annual memorial initiative held at Hillsdale.
Historically, the College Republicans organized the event. After a YAF chapter was started on campus last year, a new idea was brought to the table: a visual memorial to honor each victim, based on YAF’s nationwide “9/11 Never Forget” project.
“What the event originally entailed, which Hillsdale has never done, is 2,977 American flags to remember each individual who died on 9/11,” said Nathan Brand, president of the campus YAF chapter. “Its a really neat visual memorial because each one represents a human life.”
The “Never Forget” project was first introduced on the national scene in 2003, just before the second anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
“[9/11] had a huge impact on American life and public policy,” Coyle said. “We thought this was the best way to show students the lives that were lost.”
This year, close to 200 high school and college student organizations participated in the YAF “Never Forget” event nationwide.
“It’s recent history, but a lot of us were still young when it happened,” Brand said. “I was in third grade. I went late to school that day, I was staying at home watching the news with my parents. Everybody’s got a story of where they were on 9/11. This is a great opportunity to reflect and give kids kind-of a visual reminder of what happened and how many American lives were lost.”