On a sunny but somber Wednesday morning, the Cornell Republicans and the Cornell Democrats put aside their differences in political ideologies to co-host a tribute in remembrance of the lives lost in the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
The groups planted 297 American flags in the grass on the Arts Quad as a temporary memorial, each representing 10 lives of the 2977 lives lost in the attacks. Seven larger American flags, each representing one life lost, stood behind the 297 flags. The memorial was set up in the southwest corner of the quad, near Olin and Uris Libraries.
The memorial also functions as a fundraiser for the Ithaca chapter of Veterans of Foreign Wars. Additional flags were placed in the ground for each donation to the fundraiser. The Veterans of Foreign Wars, as described by a banner at the tribute, assists “needy and/or disabled veterans and their families, and promotes patriotism and education through service to local communities.”
Students sat at a fold-up table with a donation box and Dunkin’ coffee and doughnuts, speaking to Cornellians passing by about the significance of the day.
“Every year, we get further removed from it,” Isaac Schorr ’20, president of Cornell Republicans, told The Sun of the attacks. “It’s harder to remember; there’s fewer people on campus who really felt it and experienced it on a visceral level.”
But the 9/11 attacks still hit home for many people on campus. Some students lost loved ones in the attacks.
“It’s always extraordinarily meaningful for them. It’s meaningful for us,” Schorr said.
Schorr said that the organization plans to host this tribute annually “as long as this organization is on campus.” The fact that Cornell is located in New York and it has a high population of students from New York City makes this annual tribute even more significant, Schorr said.
The Cornell Republicans have hosted this exhibit every year and first invited the Cornell Democrats to co-host last year. “We invited them back hoping to make it an annual tradition,” Schorr said. “I think it’s important to set aside any partisanship, any animosity and come together.”
Jaia Clingham-David ’20, president of Cornell Democrats, said that today was about honoring the victims, the first responders and their loved ones.
“The attacks on 9/11 deeply affected all Americans, regardless of political party, and continue to impact our lives today,” said Clingham-David in a message to The Sun. “Despite our differences, our organizations believe it’s important to collaborate for this event.”
In 2016, Cornell dedicated a permanent memorial in Anabel Taylor Hall to the 21 alumni killed on 9/11. Nineteen of those died in the attacks on the World Trade Center, and two were aboard Flight 93, which crashed in a Pennsylvania field after passengers fought back against hijackers.
During that ceremony, Cornell also announced the September 11 Memorial Scholarship for undergraduate students.
This year’s temporary memorial will stay set up until the afternoon, dependent on weather.
“It’s important that we all come together today and we’re grateful to have a part in that,” Schorr said.
Sarah Skinner ’21 contributed reporting.