As the sun set, the UCF community gathered at the Free Speech Lawn to commemorate the lives lost on 9/11 Sunday night.
Together, students from the UCF chapter of College Republicans as well as the Young Americans for Freedom delicately placed American flags throughout the area. Slowly, the collection of flags began to grow, with each of the 2,996 flags representing a life lost in the attacks.
Among the many to place a flag was Congressman John Mica, who shared how he was invited to the Pentagon for a meeting with the secretary of defense on 9/11. Mica said the American people have a responsibility to remember that national defense is a priority and that this day is not only a day of sadness, but also a day of memorial and respect.
“It is important to rekindle the memories of those lost on that day,” said Mica.
Many UCF students said they were affected on this somber day as well.
UCF film major Hannah Forrest, 20, said this is a day of “remembrance and respect” for her family, particularly her father, who lost many friends in the attacks on the World Trade Center.
“As someone passionate and patriotic about my country, it’s a day I don’t remember, but a day that affected my father,” said Hannah Forrest, a member of the Young Americans for Freedom.
A student who did remember this day was Karis Lockhart, 19, the chairman of UCF College Republicans. Karis said although she did not lose anyone in the attacks, she remembered being little and witnessing the horrific events of that day on the news.
The public administration major said the 9/11 memorial, which was organized by College Republicans and Young Americans for Freedom, was a testament to what the UCF community stands for and what we need to do as a country.
“I remember reading something on Facebook that said we will be the last generation that remembers 9/11,” Karris said. “…it’s important that we work together to remind ourselves and future generations that we have the ability to put our differences aside and work together to protect our country.”