Never Forget: College Democrats, Republicans and Young Americans for Freedom Plant Flags to Remember 9/11



The Young Americans for Freedom, a conservative student organization, led the 9/11 installation initiative on Monday.


Students from the College Republicans, the College Democrats and the Middlebury chapter of Young Americans for Freedom installed a memorial of approximately 3,000 flags on Monday night to commemorate the anniversary of 9/11 in front of Davis Family Library.

Each flag planted represents each victim of the 9/11 attacks.

Carter Massengill ’20, co-founder and co-chairman of Middlebury’s chapter of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), initiated the project. Newly founded last fall, YAF is under the umbrella of the Young America’s Foundation, an organization for conservative youth. 

Massengill wanted Middlebury to participate in the Never Forget Project initiative of Young America’s Foundation.

“Unfortunately, a lot of students now, we’re at the age where we didn’t have a direct experience with what happened, it was mainly our parents,” Massengill said. “So I think it’s important to remember that day.”

“I think the most beautiful part about that day, obviously it was a tragedy, but we had people from such diverse backgrounds jumping in and helping,” he added. 

“After those attacks, the message was ‘united we stand.’ I think that’s a very important message for us today, both in our country and on a campus like Middlebury’s.” 

When the College Republicans and Democrats set up a similar memorial in 2013, a Native American woman visiting Middlebury and several Middlebury students pulled up the flags that had been stuck in the ground outside Mead Chapel, claiming the flags were on sacred Abenaki burial ground. The Nulhegan Abenaki tribe chief Don Stevens later expressed his disapproval of the protest and said that the protesters had not acted with the tribe’s knowledge or approval.

The tradition was not resumed until Young Americans for Freedom became an official student organization. 

“Our main goal on campus is to de-stigmatize conservatism, to promote free speech at the same time and to come together as a group of people who share similar opinions and then discuss those opinions in an educated and civil way, with opposing opinions as well,” Massengill said. 

The memorial’s organizers coordinated with Derek Doucet of the Student Activities Office and Middlebury Facilities to agree on a location for the installation. They also reached out to both the College Democrats and the College Republicans for support. 

Lachlan Pinney ’21.5, a member of the College Democrats, was out in the rain to help set up the memorial, but clarified that he is not a member of Young Americans for Freedom. He hesitated when he first got the email from them, citing the conservative status of YAF as the reason. He decided to attend anyway. 

“I just felt like this necessarily needs to transcend that partisanship,” Pinney said, “Ultimately, as I said, it’s just the right thing to do, so I came out to do it.”