On September 11, the Augustana Republicans hosted an on campus commemoration for 9/11’s’s 16th year anniversary.
Augustana students and staff remembered the victims and thanked all service men and women for their sacrifices during the attack and every day since.
The ceremony took place in front of the Commons’ building and welcomed passersby with 2,977 American flags scattered on the campus green, each one representing a victim.
The Augustana Republicans’ president, Luke Bartl and his board started organizing the event after their treasurer, sophomore Corey Albrecht, brought up the idea at the end of last spring semester.
“The planning started over a month ago, when we ordered the flags,” Bartl said. “Then I got in contact with the Sioux Falls Police Department, Emergency Medical Services, the Sioux Falls Metro and other public safety and military organizations.”
All of the flags were provided by the Young America’s foundation. Since 2003, the group has sponsored this event in more than 200 high school and college campuses through their 9/11: Never Forget Project.
The members of Augustana Republicans, with the help of student volunteers, met the night prior to place the flags, and woke up early to finish the job before 9 a.m., the start of the commemoration.
“Seeing the flags on campus put things into perspective for me,” Megan Lindley, a junior and volunteer, said. “A number is just a number until there is a visualization of it. I think the flags, the memorial and the different people who were there shows the importance of humanity.”
The scene was full of men and women in uniforms, each representing a Sioux Falls public safety organization.
“I have a lot of contacts with the public safety side so I offered my assistance,” said Director of Campus Safety Rick Tupper, one of the speakers of the event. “I put the organizers in touch with somebody from each of the agencies around Sioux Falls.”
The commemoration’s main goal was to honor all of the service men and women who served during the attacks, as well as those who currently serve the country.
“It’s a time for us to come together as an organization and as a campus, so we can both honor the men and women that died on that day,” Bartl said. “The men and women who served our country, many who are still suffering from what they experienced that day, whether it was some chemical that they were exposed to or just the long term effect of their sacrifices.”
Pastor Paul Rohde gave a prayer for those who were lost, for those who remained and for a blessing that history will not repeat itself.
“It’s important to remember history so that we learn from it,” Rohde said. “I think it’s very important that we honor the servants in our world who protect us. I relish any chance to thank such people for what they do.”
Tupper was the final speaker of the tribute. As an Augustana staff member, a veteran and a friend of 9/11 victims, his words were a significant part of the event. Tupper’s speech reminded everyone present that the victims should not be remembered as a mere number, but people who loved, were loved and had their entires lives ahead of them.
“They were attacking us and the freedoms that we have. They did not necessarily care about what the color of your skin was, how you identify yourself or God you worship,” Tupper said. “They attacked us as a society because of what we stand for. We stand for freedom.”
Emily Novotny, vice president of Augustana Republicans and daughter of a law enforcement officer, ended the ceremony with a moment of silence, followed by a few words of thanks to all of the representatives present and their respective organizations.
“I’ve had the opportunity to travel the world and there’s people that would love to have what we have,” Tupper said. “That’s what I really want the generations to look at.”