12/6/2013 1:57:21 AM
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
By Mike Clemens '15
As darkness fell on Siena’s academic quad yesterday evening, members of the college’s Republican Club quietly set to work on an annual tribute to those who lost their lives twelve years ago on September 11, 2001. With patriotic music softly playing, students carefully arranged 2,996 American flags in front of the Standish Library. Each flag represents a victim of the terrorist attacks. The display is an act of remembrance that has become a powerful tradition at Siena College, for the school community and especially for the students involved.
“For me this is about fulfilling a promise,” said Republican Club president Riley O’Brien ’14. “After 9/11 we all made a promise as Americans to honor and preserve the memory of the victims, setting up these flags is our small way of doing just that.”
For many of Siena’s current students, memories of the 9/11 attacks can be difficult to recall. “I was only in first grade then,” said Dan Gioe ’17. “I remember being scared when I saw the pictures on TV. It was shocking.”
Students of this age group have had a unique experience in regard to the attacks; they lived through them but because they were young, their understanding of the impact has developed with time. As Siena’s students have come of age, many expressed gaining an increased awareness of the toll 9/11 had on the country and on their communities. “As I got older, I came to realize just how bad it was,” said Taylor Cuomo ’16. “It was hard to understand that at the time.”
Some students have come to view the attacks and the victims in a new light because of their involvement with certain groups. Tucker Martin ’16 and George Vogt ’14 said that their experiences as volunteer firefighters have helped them to better understand the dedication of first responders. “To commemorate the victims is one thing, but when you’re in the fire service it strikes a whole different chord,” Martin said.
What transcends each student’s personal experience is their deep commitment to honor the victims. “This is something that’s important to everyone in our country,” said Julie Sullivan ’15. “Every generation has had a historical event that defined them; whether it be Pearl Harbor or the Civil Rights Movement, 9/11 is ours and it’s important that we take the time to remember and reflect on it.”
If the tiny flags flying on campus give people a reason to pause and remember those who died on 9/11, then O’Brien has kept his promise and promoted the patriotic spirit that lives on.
Contact: Ken Jubie '04
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