The scene was somber yet moving at Lehigh’s 9/11 flag memorial, which honored the 2,977 lives lost during the Sept. 11 tragedy 13 years ago.
At 6:45 a.m. on Thursday morning, students from all organizations on campus gathered to set up the memorial with 2,977 flags across Lehigh’s University Center Front Lawn. Flags stretched across the entire lawn in perfectly aligned rows. Students gathered with friends and family to commemorate the tribute.
Student Senate President Kerry Mallett, ’15, said Lehigh did not have any sort of memorial for the past two anniversaries, and Student Senate was proactive in wanting to change this.
“Many Lehigh students are from the northeast, especially the metropolitan New York area, so many students have personal connections to Sept. 11 because either ourselves or our friends were affected by the tragedies that day,” Mallett said.
Mallett also said one goal of the memorial was visibility.
“We wanted as many members of the Lehigh community to see the memorial and remember those whose lives were lost as possible,” Mallett said. “Personally, the memorial is powerful and moving because it shows the immensity of the day. Each flag not only represents someone who was killed, but families and friends who lost a loved one in a horrific act of violence.
“We say ‘never forget,’ and to me, this memorial is a reminder to always remember those killed on Sept. 11, not just on the anniversary,” she said.
Throughout the day, students visited the memorial and reflected on the tragedy that struck our nation 13 years ago. After spending time at the memorial, Alex Bloom, ’15, said he appreciated the memorial and its meaning.
“It does feel like yesterday, and I think it is a wonderful way to use the beauty of Lehigh to capture the profoundness of the tragedy,” Bloom said. “I remember the slogan, ‘E pluribus unum,’ (or) ‘out of many, one.’ That’s what we are: We come from many different places, we have many different backgrounds, but we are all one country.”
The memorial lasted from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and more than 50 Lehigh students helped in setting up and taking down the flags. Many found the simplicity of the tribute beautiful.
“The memorial is truly breathtaking,” Jill Skipper, ’15, said. “It is overwhelmingly beautiful. It makes me feel so sad for the families that dealt with the tragedy of 9/11. A flag alone seems so small, but seeing all of the flags together carries such a large meaning. This small symbolism is an extremely powerful remembrance of all the lives lost in 9/11.”