The University of Richmond College Republicans and College Democrats set up a display of almost 3,000 flags on the front lawn of Boatwright Memorial Library Monday morning to commemorate 9/11 victims.

A group of 10 students, composed of members from both political clubs as well as unaffiliated students, worked from around 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. Monday. They stuck American flags into the grass to form a square of 2,977 flags, one for each person killed in 9/11. 

The students also put a sign that read “9/11 Never Forget Project” next to the flags. Several members of the clubs wore memorial pins throughout the day with the same message.

“It’s a flag display that memorializes the people who were killed on 9/11, so we put up one flag for each person that was murdered on the day,” Mason Zadan, RC '20, chairman of College Republicans, said.

Betty Neal Crutcher briefly joined the students to help place flags. She took two buttons and two leftover flags, one set for herself and one for President Ronald A. Crutcher.

“We really appreciated her help and her assistance and support in remembering those killed,” Zadan said.

Zadan said he hoped that the event would encourage remembrance of 9/11 and the people lost.

“I think people are forgetting about it and the reasons behind 9/11,” Zadan said. “We can kind of forget that there are always threats, external and internal around us, that threaten our freedom. We can’t forget about the heroes who defend our lives on 9/11 and continue to this day.”

The anniversary is personal for some members of the University of Richmond community, Zadan said. He knows several UR students from the New York area who lost loved ones during 9/11 and he thinks the flag display is a good way to remember those who were lost.

Zadan began planning the event when he arrived back on campus, he said. He met with the College Republicans executive board and then spoke to Shannon Kane, WC ’19, president of College Democrats. 

College Republicans bought the flags for the display. The Young America’s Foundation provided around 150 memorial pins and the sign for the display. The flag event has been annual since 2003, and last year, over 206 organizations hosted the event, Zadan said.

Kane expressed the event's importance in memorializing the lives lost on 9/11, but also how it shows the country's unity after the attack.

“It was a direct attack on our country, and remembering how we came together as a country after that, that’s something that we desperately need on campus and in general,” Kane said.

John Philippou, RC ’21, stopped to observe the flags Monday morning.

“It’s pretty touching just to see the sheer volume of flags there," Philippou said. "I think it’s a really nice representation of unity and being American."

Paige Li, WC ’21, an international student from China, took pictures of the display.

“I think [the display] is beautiful, and it’s a memory thing,” Li said.

Jonathan Hayes, RC ’18, is a member of College Republicans but was not present for the event setup. He saw the flags around noon. A friend of his lost her father on 9/11, he said.

“I think [the display] is very powerful,” Hayes said. “This is the first time I’ve seen a display like this commemorate today. I’m very moved by it and touched, and I hope that [my friend] is too.” 

Contact news writer Katherine Schulte at katherine.schulte@richmond.edu.

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