FARMINGTON – The UMF College Republican Club members were up early this morning.
Their mission, which began at 4 a.m., was to plant more than 2,000 small America flags to form the iconic “9/11” numbers. The display, say organizers, is to remind those walking by of the tragic day seven years ago, on Sept. 11, 2001, when four commercial jetliners were hijacked by terrorists and flown into the World Trade Center’s twin towers in New York City, the Pentagon, with a fourth crashing into a field in Pennsylvania.
“We wanted to do something on campus,” said UMF College Republican Club’s Vice Chairwoman Angela Courchesney. “We wanted something to stand out; for people to notice it and reflect on it.”
At noon, students crossing the green from the Olsen Student Center to Mantor Library and beyond, walked by glancing at the long lines of so many small flags. A few people walked up to the sign posted that explained the display was sponsored by the UMF College Republicans and “Never Forget 9/11.” Courchesney said she was disappointed to see someone had taken the sign mentioning the republicans and had crumpled it up at some point this morning. Someone else, she said, came along and tried to smooth the wrinkles of the sign and return it.
“There’s no place for that on a day like this,” she said.
Last spring, a flag display of another sort caused quite a bit of controversy when, as part of an art project, a UMF student placed various-sized American flags on the floor in a maze-like pattern in the hallway at UMF’s student center. The idea, said the student at the time, was to see if students would walk on or around the flags on the floor. The project upset a local veteran and a few others who attempted to remove the display, but were stopped by the UMF administration. That story eventually attracted national attention.
Today’s display, Courchesney said, was the product of much discussion among club members. “No matter what your politics, everyone can understand it.”
Until the display is removed at dusk, at about 7 p .m. tonight, Republican Club members intend to keep an eye on it.
“We’re going to be checking the flags to make sure they’re not touching the ground,” Courchesney said.