On Saturday, a group of students, friends, and families of the UVA community gathered to memorialize the twentieth anniversary of the September 11th attacks. Members of the Young Americans for Freedom club at UVA arrived at the amphitheater around 5:45am to plant flags before hosting a moving dedication ceremony that began at 8am.
A group of about 20 YAF volunteers planted 2,977 American flags, one for each life lost in the attacks. The flags, assembled to represent the Twin Towers, laid below two posters — one that read “Never Forget” and another that included the symbol of YAF’s 9/11: Never Forget Project. The ceremony featured Colonel Dan Moy, who gave an emotionally stirring speech about his experience in the Air Force during 9/11. His speech was followed with a vigil lighting of five candles, each one remembering a separate attack and the actions of heroes involved.
At 8:46, the minute when the first plane hit the North Tower in 2001, the audience and members of YAF took a moment of silence to remember those who sacrificed their lives during the attacks. This was accompanied by a playing of Taps, honoring the men and women who laid down their lives for the cause of freedom.
A yearly tradition for YAF, this project has remained a staple for almost twenty years in the UVA community. Nick Cabrera, president of YAF at UVA, reflected on the club’s efforts saying, “what motivates me to keep this project going and keeping it a tradition at YAF at UVA is just really what it represents… it shows that as Americans, there are more things that bring us together than can ever divide us.” Despite the work it took to create the memorial, including planting almost 3,000 flags early in the morning, Cabrera persisted that “still 20 years later, Young America’s Foundation is putting on this project,” noting that it “speaks volumes to who we are as Americans and how much we value our freedoms and our rights and our individual liberties.”
Among those in the audience was UVA President Jim Ryan, who later posted “many thanks to YAF @ UVA for organizing this morning’s moving event commemorating the lives lost on September 11th” on his social media accounts.The memorial remained up for most of the day until it was defaced later in the evening. YAF expects to continue this tradition in the years to come, promising to never forget the lives lost on 9/11, as well as the bravery of those who made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure the freedom and safety of the American people.