September 20, 2001

Republicans Rally to 'Defend America'

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The College Republicans held a rally in Ho Plaza yesterday to show support for immediate action against those responsible for the terrorist attacks in Washington D.C. and New York City last week.

Sam Merksamer ’02, director of the College Republicans and editor-in-chief of The Cornell Review, was one of the speakers in the “Defend America” rally.

In an interview with The Sun, he noted that it was imperative that the United States take action to eliminate all terrorist organizations.

“The world has been changed forever. The U.S. is the greatest nation on earth — we have to show that we will not tolerate … the acts of these savages,” he said at the rally.

“Terrorism anywhere in the world is a threat to the United States,” he said.

Merksamer questioned the extent of the assistance the University has provided for students, adding that support should be “not only about making each other feel better, but about celebrating a national unity.”

According to Michael Schmidt ’04, vice chair of membership for the College Republicans, support for military defense of America is broad based. He estimated there are currently 400 to 500 members of the College Republicans listed in their database, with average meeting attendance ranging from 20 to 120 people.

When questioned about the community’s reaction to the rally, Merksamer said that although there were those present who were protesting for a peaceful solution, sentiments in favor of retaliation are not uncommon on the Cornell campus.

About 50 spectators attended yesterday’s midday rally, with more people dropping by to listen as they passed through Ho Plaza between classes.

Schmidt noted that, in general, the organization supports President George W. Bush in the decisions he has taken so far and will take.

Joe Mamounas ’04, who organized speakers for the College Republicans’ rally, said that the general purpose of the event was to build unity on campus, rather than express any partisan statement.

He noted that he was disappointed in the fact that patriotism was virtually ignored in the University response, adding, “It was our opinion that that sort of view was underrepresented on campus.”

Last Thursday’s vigil, he continued, focused too much on the campus while the attack “was at its heart an American tragedy.”

Members of other political parties, such as the Cornell Democrats and the Cornell Greens, could not be reached for comment last night.

However, Mamounas said he also believes the sentiment expressed yesterday is strong all over the United States. “I think for the most part many people are here with us in the country,” he said.

“I think we all have the same idea, everyone wants peace,” he added, explaining that the Republican sentiment is just “peace through strength.”

Archived article by Beth Herskovits