Just as we must never forget what happened on 9/11, we must also remember how that same unbridled patriotism was frowned upon on college campuses.
When 3,000 innocent people were murdered by radical Islamists on Sept. 11, 2001, shock, horror and fear gripped every American, and in the days following the attacks, the entire country was swept up in unbridled patriotism that, perhaps, hadn’t been seen since World War II.
With the ruins of the World Trade Center still smoldering, a charred, cavernous hole in the Pentagon, and a wreckage-strewn field in Pennsylvania still being cleared, the Left had already begun to show its true colors. The nation’s campuses were overflowing with anti-American sentiments.
Liberals immediately embarked upon a nostalgic binge that ignored the murdering of innocent American civilians. Professors led radical left-wing students in campaigns that attacked America’s sacred institutions of free enterprise and civic duty, and student columnists were serving as daily catalysts for anti-American rhetoric.
Evergreen State College Prof. Larry Mosqueda wrote, “If we multiply by 800 to 1000 times the amount of pain, angst and anger being currently felt by the American public, we might begin to understand how much of the rest of the world feels, as they are continually victimized [by the United States].” Prof. George Wright of Chico State University alleged that President Bush wanted to “kill innocent people,” “colonize” the entire Arab world, and secure “oil for the Bush family.”
A teach-in at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill, titled “Understanding the Attack on America: An Alternative View,” featured speaker William Blum, author of Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower. Blum equated the United States with terrorist states, saying, “There are few if any nations in the world that have harbored more terrorists than the United States.”
David Horn, a student writing for the Michigan Daily at the University of Michigan, presumed that the United States deserved to be attacked, stating, “ … [T]he actions taken by the terrorists on Tuesday are not completely unwarranted. We try to forget about the way this country behaves internationally—that we, too, often behave as terrorists.”
Kathryn Duke, a student columnist for the Chronicle at Duke University, wrote, “The words ‘freedom,’ ‘liberty’ and ‘democracy’ are great words. But when they are used by the media to summon nationalism so potentially destructive as that being bred now—the sight of the flag burning would be preferable to me to its display across America, across the hearts of Americans.”
These are just a few of many examples of how the American Left felt about our nation just days after the attacks. Today, 9/11 is being hijacked by the Obama administration and turned into a bland, politically correct “national day of service.” It was for these reasons and others that in 2003, just two years after the attack, Young America’s Foundation created the 9/11 Never Forget Project. Certainly, there was tremendous buildup to and reflection on the first anniversary, but as the second anniversary approached, we noticed that most college and high school campuses were doing little, if anything, to honor the 2,977 innocents murdered on 9/11.
Sadly, organizing the 9/11 Never Forget Project on campuses has fallen primarily to students, rather than their schools’ administrators. The goal of the program is to construct American flag memorials consisting of 2,977 flags at prominent locations on campuses nationwide. Young America’s Foundation (YAF) also suggests that student organizers schedule campuswide moments of silence, host speakers and distribute buttons and posters to their fellow students.
This year alone, YAF is working with students at more than 200 college and high schools to organize these displays. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for student organizers to face opposition to their 9/11 Never Forget Project efforts. Students over the years have been told by administrators that the flags could be a fire hazard, and if they recognize tragedies such as 9/11, they also will need to recognize the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
This year, UCLA initially refused to approve the project because allowing groups to place flags in the ground on campus, “would indeed cause damage to the campus as well as create some hazards for students and the public.” This despite the fact that those running for student government previously placed large campaign signs in the ground. After some pressure, the administration relented and allowed the students to display the memorial on campus.
Despite the opposition, many students are able to push through the bizarre obstacles thrown up by the Left, and hold their memorials. Of course, many in the campus communities express their appreciation for the 9/11 Never Forget Project.
A mother in North Carolina wrote YAF after seeing the 9/11 Never Forget Project display at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, “My husband, the father of my two children, was killed in the World Trade Center. We have since relocated to North Carolina, but living away from where the tragedy happened, there are not many opportunities/memorials to go to and reflect on what happened that day. I will never forget what happened that day, but I am glad that UNC-Chapel Hill, and all of the students who participate at various schools, take the time to do this, so others can be reminded that lives were lost, and that a tragedy did happen.”
With the help of young people across the country, and memorials such as the 9/11 Never Forget Project, future generations will always preserve the memory of 2,977 people murdered by terrorists 10 years ago.