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UCF students commemorate 9/11 attacks

Senior Staff Writer

Published: Sunday, September 9, 2012

Updated: Sunday, September 9, 2012 14:09


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The College Republicans and College Democrats plant thousands of flags on the free assembly lawn each year to commemorate 9/11.

Not many dates carry as much significance as Sept. 11, 2001. The terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people will not soon be forgotten by anyone who is old enough to remember, especially UCF students. From red bandannas to tiny American flags, students are finding ways to commemorate the lives lost on 9/11.

Like any university, there is a wide range of ages at UCF. Some students were quite young in 2001 when the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center occurred. Others who are older remember well what happened. Some students may even have family or friends who were there. All of us remember the years after, the war and the country coming together to heal.

Student organizations such as the College Democrats and College Republicans also set up memorials for 9/11 every year — they even do it together, in cooperation, an example of how this day of remembrance is bringing students of different mindsets together.

“Every year, in conjunction with the College Republicans, we have an annual flag-planting in front of the Math and Physics Building on the free assembly lawn. We plant 3,000 flags in commemoration of the lives lost on 9/11,” said Ali Kurnaz, vice president of the College Democrats and a senior studying political science and sociology.

On the morning of Sept. 11, well before dawn, members of the College Republicans and the College Democrats go on campus together and put the flags out. They do it early so that the memorial is all set up before students begin to arrive for their early classes said Aubrey Marks, president of the College Democrats and a junior studying political science.

“This year is the 11th anniversary, and I think we still need to honor those lives lost. They should be remembered every year — not just last year or this year,” Marks said.

There are students on campus outside of organizations who have decided to commemorate in their own way, like Joshua Braswell, a freshman majoring in engineering.

“I try to remember by listening to songs that were written right after 9/11 or about 9/11. I usually listen to those on that day,” Braswell said. “I think it would be pretty sweet if they [UCF] would do something to commemorate. I mean, it’s been over 10 years, but it’s still something recent enough that we were all here and all remember.”

Another UCF student has taken strides toward setting up another annual 9/11 memorial. Neal Surrena, a sophomore studying marketing, started a movement last year in remembrance of Welles Crowther.

Crowther was a student who attended Boston College. He died in the South Tower while trying to rescue others from the burning building. He always wore a red bandanna, a habit since he was young. When UCF played Boston College in football last year, Surrena started a movement that ended with thousands of students wearing red bandannas in Crowther’s honor.

“This year’s Red Bandanna Game we are going to wear the bandannas not only to remember Crowther but to remember everyone who was lost on Sept. 11,” Surrena said. “Through this simple tradition, a diverse and complicated issue of unity throughout this country can be tackled at least for one day out of the year as we wear our red bandannas.”

This year’s Red Bandanna Game is on Saturday at 4 p.m. against Florida International University.

Whether it is something small and personal or a memorial that rallies thousands, UCF students are certainly finding ways to remember the tragedy of 9/11 and honor the lives lost.

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