Rutgers student creates memorial to commemorate 14th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001


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Photo by Daphne Alva |

While most students were sleeping this morning, Najum Junaid was awake at 7:30 a.m. arranging miniature American flags across the Voorhees Mall lawn.

The "9/11: Never Forget Memorial" on Voorhees Mall taking place today has been assembled by students involved with the College Republicans for the many years.

“A lot of colleges don’t take the time to remember (Sept. 11) with any events. It’s important for our organization to host the '9/11: Never Forget' project so we can remember history and remember what happened,” Junaid said.

Each year, 2,977 flags are stuck into the grass to represent the people who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001 as a result of the attacks.The flags are arranged in a pattern to depict the Pentagon, the Twin Towers and the words “Never Forget.”

“We are (setting up early) so more students see it and it can make the largest impact,” said Junaid, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore and political director of the Rutgers College Republicans.

Throughout the memorial, there will be five moments of silence. One moment of silence when the Pentagon was struck, two when the Twin Towers were struck and two when each building collapsed.

“We will have periods of silence to mark the times when the planes hit the towers, the ground and the pentagon,” he said.

After each moment of silence, groups of students will gather in circles to share their personal experiences on that fateful day.

Junaid will be sharing his own personal story of what he remembers from Sept. 11. His grandfather, who was in one of the Twin Towers, returned home safely later that night.

“I was in kindergarten or first grade, it was a long time ago, but I remember being picked up early from school ... my grandfather was in one of the towers, but he made it out,” he said. “We were really worried the whole day until he got home.”

Junaid said he encourages students who are passing by the memorial during their day to take a moment and stand in silence.

“Observe the moments of silence and then go about your day afterwards,” he said.

Most college students were young when two planes struck the Twin Towers in New York City 14 years ago, which is why Junaid believes it is important that Rutgers dedicates a memorial each year to the events on Sept. 11.

New Brunswick has remembered Sept. 11 in other ways as well.

"Voices of September 11th" is an organization stationed on Albany Street in New Brunswick that offers resources for survivors, families of victims and first responders who were at Ground Zero during the attacks.

According to the New Jersey State Police, nearly 700 people lost their lives that day, along with 539 missing persons reported. From Middlesex County, 55 residents perished in the attacks.

“It is definitely important for (college students to remember 9/11) because we were so young and may not remember it as vividly as adults,” Junaid said. “It’s a tragic event that we shouldn’t forget, and we should be reminded of it. That is how we don’t make the same mistakes of the past, by looking at the past and learning from it.”


Avalon Zoppo

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