Flag display remembers victims, honors military casualties
PHOENIX – Grand Canyon University is hosting a daylong 9/11 memorial for its students, faculty and anybody who would like to visit the Phoenix campus.
More than 3,000 American flags grace GCU’s Quad on this, the 12th anniversary of the devastating event that has essentially defined a generation.
In addition to a flag for each of the 2,977 9/11 victims, there are an additional 147 flags. These flags are arranged in an outline of Arizona and represent the state’s military men and women lost to the war on terror. At the center of the outline is a single flag for LCpl. Michael Williams, a Yuma Marine who was the first person from Arizona to die in combat operations.
“We came up with the idea because the generation that exists here on campus, the students, it’s important for them to remember,” GCU enrollment counselor and Army veteran Tim Kane explained. “This is one of the most significant events of their generation.”
Kane, this force behind Wednesday’s memorial event, spent two years in Afghanistan immediately after the attacked. He was there from November 2001 to November 2003.
“We have students who are starting this year who were 5 or 6 when this event happened,” said Danielle Rinnear, the university’s director of spiritual life. “It’s really important for them to have awareness and remember, and also for them to be engaged in the process of praying and supporting those who were affected by this tragedy.”
“It comes down to making sure that the generations today remember past events and then carry them into the future,” Kane said. “At any university, we’re … teaching our students to be global learners and global thinkers, and also global citizens.”
The GCU 9/11 observance includes a reading of names, not only of the 9/11 victims, but also of the thousands of military men and women who have died in service to our country, fighting the war on terror since 2001. The reading of more than 9,600 names began at 8 a.m. and will continue until 6 p.m. That’s about 800 names each hour throughout the day. A wrap-up ceremony will take place afterwards.
Founded in 1949, Grand Canyon University is a private Christian university.
The campus is located at 3300 W. Camelback Road.