If you drive by a nearby college campus this week, you’ll likely come across nearly 3,000 American flags that grace the university quad, each representing a fallen victim of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks 20 years ago.
Almost no one who planted the sea of stars and stripes had been born prior to the deadly day which would catapult the United States into a Middle Eastern conflict to last two decades. If they were, they almost certainly have no memory of it. David Swegle, a 20-year-old junior at Hillsdale College, is one of them.
“That’s the main reason why it’s so important,” Swegle told The Federalist of the upcoming display put together by peers with no firsthand recollection of Sept. 11, 2001. “They didn’t have to live through it, but they still have to remember.”
Their way of remembering is a memorial of nearly 3,000 flags — 2,977, to be exact, one for each victim and zero for the terrorists, Swegle noted — complimented by a ceremony put together by the local American Legion and the Hillsdale Fire Department. Swegle’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter, a campus conservative group, is in charge of the flags.
Called the “9/11 Never Forget Project,” students at more than 200 schools will participate in the initiative sponsored since 2003 by Young America’s Foundation’s (YAF), the parent organization of Young Americans for Freedom, with chapters stretching coast to coast.
“Our country was forever changed after the events of 9/11,” said former Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who now serves as president of the foundation. “Every student younger than 20 years old in this country was born after 9/11. As schools and public officials across the country attempt to sanitize the tragic attacks, we need to remind the next generation of what happened, who did it, and why they did it.”
Not only have 20 years passed since the September attacks, but those 20 years have also spanned a war declared lost this summer.
“This year’s anniversary carries extra significance, and students are eager to participate in this project,” said YAF spokeswoman Kara Zupkus. “While the Biden administration seems to forget the real threat of radical Islamic terrorism, students are prepared to educate their peers and ensure we never forget the lives lost.”
Swegle said this year’s stain on American foreign policy has only increased the importance of this year’s ritual.
“The threat of Islamic terrorism is still present,” Swegle said, hoping the memorial will not only honor those who’ve been lost but will also encourage his generation to remain vigilant.