-Andrew Rock, Contributing Writer
On Sept. 11, 2014, volunteers from Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) will plant 3,000 American flags on the Quad. Each individual flag signifies a casualty of the strikes on the Twin Towers, Pentagon, and Flight 93. YAF hopes that this display will unify the students on a tragic anniversary and remind everyone that freedom is not free.
Volunteers will place the flags between 7-8:30 a.m. Students are invited to arrive at any time during the flag-planting, even if they wish only to leave a single flag in someone’s memory. YAF stresses that anyone is welcome to participate.
This patriotic display is part of the nation-wide Never Forget Project, conducted by YAF since 2003. Every September 11, high school and college students across the nation hold ceremonies and display flags in honor of their fallen countrymen.
Event organizers want the sight to both unify students in support of their country and remind them of the ongoing threat of terrorism. Stephan Pitts, senior Business Administration major and founder of MC’s YAF chapter, explained that the flags will serve as stark reminders of the dangers America faces. “There are people who would take our freedoms away,” he remarked, “We need to remember what happened, so it doesn’t happen again.”
Glenn Antizzo, Department Chair of History & Political Science, elaborated upon the need for both remembrance and vigilance. His expertise in international relations has made him mindful of the continuing dangers posed by terror groups. “The problem hasn’t gone away,” he said, “It’s tough to beat an ideology.”
In addition to being mindful of potential dangers, YAF leaders want students to remember the victims of the attacks. Colin Keith, YAF chapter treasurer and senior Marketing major, commented on this. “We’re responsible to pass it on, and make sure they never forget,” Keith said, “I hope we can all come together, to pause and think about what happened.”
YAF chapter secretary Amelia Breitling, a senior Elementary Education major, emphasized the importance of remembering not just the events, but the victims. She hopes that the sight of thousands of flags will make the thousands of casualties seem more real.
Breitling says that commemorating the individual victims is a crucial aspect of the project. She asserted that remembering 9/11 is not about revenge, but about justice for the fallen. “It’s not a grudge, not in hatred but in never letting those people be forgotten,” she said. “We don’t want to forget the heroes of the day.”
YAF’s display of flags provides a striking visual reminder of the lives that were taken 13 years ago. Hunter Foster, a sophomore Political Science major, believes that the depiction of so many innocent lives will have a strong impact on viewers.
“It really hits people hard, when people know each flag represents a life that was taken,” he said.
This poignant point was further emphasized when Breitling told a story about last year’s flag display. She said that several people came up to her after seeing the flags, and told her how much it had meant to them. One woman approached her and said that she had someone overseas with the armed forces, and that she was grateful to see their support.
As students commemorate the 13th anniversary of the attacks, YAF’s patriotic efforts will remind students o the fallen, and of the brave Americans who continue to serve their country. The goal of the display is to unify everyone, if only for a little while, in remembering the sacrifices others have made.
Young Americans for Freedom, the project’s sponsor, is a non-partisan group dedicated to spreading conservative principles and activism on college campuses across the country. The group was founded in 1960, and the Mississippi College chapter was founded in spring of 2012 by Stephan Pitts. They meet in B.C. Rogers Student Center on Sunday nights, and welcome new members.