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Notre Dame community unites to honor 9/11

NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The Notre Dame community united Monday to honor the lives lost on September 11.

In the morning one group put up a flag for every American who was killed—that’s 2,977 in total on the south quad lawn.

At 8:46, the time that the North Tower was hit sixteen years ago, more than one hundred people held a prayer service right next to those flags so as to ‘never forget 9/11.

"It wasn't simply the huge loss of life, but it became one of the most dramatic moments in contemporary American history,” said Father Edward Malloy, who served as Notre Dame President during 9/11.

"I think it's tremendously powerful. This is absolutely something we don't want to forget as a nation, and the people we lost on September 11 aren't people we want to stop remembering,” said Keenan White, student government’s Director of Faith and Service.

However, when Notre Dame’s Young Americans for Freedom arrived early Monday morning to put up their 9/11 memorial for the fourth year in a row, the sidewalk greeted them with an unwelcome surprise.

“500,000 Iraqis murdered…To come and desecrate where we were planning on having a memorial is something that I feel is honestly just very cowardly,” said YAF Chairwoman Clare McKinney.

She says that’s especially because the memorial is meant to bring peace to people like Keenan White, who says she vividly remembers that day—her birthday.

"And I actually have a further unique story. My dad was in the military for 12 years when I was little. We were living on a military base in Idaho, so I remember it very well. My birthday party got cancelled. There were troops were marching down my street,” said White.

But her four-year-old flashbulb memory is somewhat rare.

“We were concerned that students might forget the significance of that day and how many innocent lives were lost,” said McKinney.

Clarke McKinney, a senior, was only 5 when the two towers crumbled.

She says it’s her dad’s past that really helped her internalize the significance of 9/11.

“My dad is an immigrant, so being an American and coming to America is something that is really important to him, and just seeing the life that we’ve been able to live here is really amazing. It’s disheartening to me, and it hurts me to think that there are people who threaten the American way of life and just our belief system,” she said.

So the students who put up the flags say they are standing for the American way of life—and honoring those who lost their chance to live that to its fullest on that fateful day.

“So when you’re walking by, you’re able to see that this amount of innocent American lives were lost on this day. These were family members. These were close friends…so just that we can all come together and empathize and really feel as a community the impact that that day had,” said McKinney.

The site where students held the prayer service is the same place where the presiding Father Malloy held the first one on September 11, 2001.

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