The Lehigh community gathered to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. After the flag was raised at half-staff, the ROTC and community members planted flags on the Front Lawn. (Sharon Jo/B&W Staff)

Students commemorate the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11 with flag planting memorial on front lawn

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Every year, 2,977 flags are planted on the University Center lawn by students to commemorate the attacks that took place on September 11, 2001. 

One flag for each life lost that day.

This year, on the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11, the impact of the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil was memorialized by those in attendance.

Organized by Student Senate, the ceremony began at 6:15 a.m. and was attended by over 100 students. This year marks the seventh year in a row the flag memorial has been held. 

Assisting with the memorial were cadets from Lehigh’s Steel Battalion ROTC. Cadet Austin Tarpey, ‘24, was born after Sept. 11 but said the events that took place that day and the heroic actions of first responders have had an influence on his decision to join ROTC. 

“I’ve been to many Sept. 11 memorials and just seeing everyone come together to honor the sacrifice those people made is something that stuck with me throughout the years and had a huge impact on my decision to serve,” Tarpey said. 

Cadet Battalion Commander James Ball, ‘22, used the ceremony as an opportunity to reflect on the importance of Sept. 11 in the nation’s history. 

Ball said despite the fact that many current Lehigh students had not yet been born or were too young to recognize the significance of  Sept. 11, its effect on their lives is still measurable. 

“20 years since it happened, a lot of us were very little or were not born yet but we’re still here and paying our respects,” Ball said. “I think it’s impacted all of our lives whether we were alive for it or not.”

Student Senator Declan Coster, ‘23, was born in 2001 before Sept. 11. He said it is something that has “always been a part of my life.” Coster said his family knew people who were in the World Trade Center that day. 

Coster also recognized the impact Sept. 11 had on the Lehigh community, given its proximity and ties to the New York area.

Eight Lehigh alumni and four parents of alumni were killed on Sept. 11.  

“Being here is pretty special and to do something with the Lehigh community is really wonderful,” Coster said. “I hope for the families that have people from Lehigh who lost their lives on Sept. 11 this is a good memorial for them. We’re still thinking of those people, still thinking of the Lehigh community and the Americans that lost their lives that day.” 

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