An Ohio college reportedly threatened to cancel a Sept. 11 American flag memorial unless student organizers included flags from other countries that suffered losses in the attacks as well.
Sarah Snow, president of the Marietta College Republicans, told Human Events her organization planned to observe the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by putting up 2,977 small flags on the school’s grounds, one to commemorate each person who died.
After receiving initial permission from the college to hold the memorial, Snow, a junior, said she received a second email saying the vigil would not be allowed unless it also included flags from the other countries too.
In a post on the Young America’s Foundation website, an organization for conservative students, Snow said her “jaw dropped” when she read the email.
“Why should we place the extra flags anyways? It was an attack on AMERICANS, AMERICAN ideals, AMERICAN capitalism, defense, and freedom,” she wrote. “The World Trade Center wasn’t hit because a Chinese accountant was working that morning; it was hit because American capitalists were there.”
When she went into complain to the student life office, Snow said she was told: “We have a global outlook at this school and we cannot ignore the Chinese and Muslim students who also suffered losses” and “We need to look at all aspects of the event so there isn’t a negative reaction from the International Students.”
Snow said she never received any complaints from foreign students who felt left out.
“Those in Student Life were the only ones opposing the selection of American flags,” she said. “My Saudi Arabian peers were even sympathetic, telling me, ‘It’s 9/11. We understand why you want to do it.'”
The school ultimately said they would provide the additional flags themselves, one per country, and both sides agreed to the compromise of including them along with the 2,977 American ones. Snow said it was either include the other countries or not hold display at all.
“They were given permission to do their display,” Perry said. “We asked if they would also include flags from other countries.”
Instead, he said it was the College Republicans who considered backing out.
“Their initial response back was that they were going to decide whether they wanted to do that or not,” Perry said.
Snow dismissed Perry’s notion, telling The Blaze in a telephone interview that it was made very clear by the college administration that the College Republicans were required to incorporate other countries if they wanted to keep their event.
Perry said he couldn’t recall whether a similar 2,977-flag memorial has been held at Marietta in the past.
An official Marietta College release lists the College Republicans’ memorial among other events planned to commemorate the anniversary.
The flags will be placed at 5 a.m. and remain up throughout the day, culminating in a candlelight vigil in the evening.
“I’m appreciative that the decision was overturned, and we now get to host this event,” Snow wrote in the YAF post. “But, it should have never been an issue to begin with.”
Two other events in the next week at Marietta will focus on the Muslim-American experience in a post-9/11 world: On Tuesday, a group “will discuss freedom of speech and how Muslims in the U.S. see/experience freedom of speech.” On Wednesday, the college will host a public speaking session “on the misconception of the Arab-Muslim culture in the western world, and the stereotypes Muslims experience in the U.S.”
Snow said although the school itself is fairly liberal, the surrounding community tends to be more conservative. She said she’s been flooded with supportive calls from local churches, 9-12 groups and Marietta alumni.
“I just wanted to honor the people who died. I never wanted this to be political,” she said.