What did the University of Illinois find so offensive about honoring the victims of 9/11?
It took a public campaign via Facbook and old-fashioned telephone calls to get university officials to relent and take back a decision to try to stop a conservative group on campus from honoring those who died the day terrorists hijackers flew commercial airliners packed with passengers into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Only the courage of passengers aboard a fourth hijacked plane prevented the attack from being even worse.
On Sunday, the College Republicans of the the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign announced its intention to hold a flag-planting ceremony at the university quad Friday, in remembrance of those who lost their lives in the 9/11 terror attack.
The idea was to plant one American flag foreach of the victims who died that day — 2,977 flags in all.
The Illini Republicans announced the event on its Facebook page, stating:
Next Friday we will honor the 2,977 victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks by placing a flag for each of the victims on the Quad. Anyone interested in helping us with our memorial should fill out the form connected to the link below:
Two days later, however, the students hit a snag, and posted:
Developing Story: University of Illinois denies College Republicans permission to plant American Flags on the Quad for a 9/11 remembrance project. More details soon.
The group was sent an email denying their request to plant the flags, citing “irrigation” concerns. A school representative wrote, according to Truth Revolt:
I wanted to follow up with you regarding your event on 9/11 to see if you had any questions. When we met we discussed that no flags were going to go into the ground as that is against policy, but we also discussed alternatives into what you could do in which you appeared to be in favor of. I wanted to touch base to make sure that there were no other questions or concerns you had regarding the event.
This is what is outlined here:
• Explained to you that it was against University Policy to stick anything in the ground due to the irrigation system and provided you with options as to what you could do as an alternative that involved using cups with sand and sticking the flags in them or foam with the same idea as well as cardboard or any other foundation or acceptable alternative that did not involve placing items in the ground.
• I suggested that you expand the flags throughout the quad instead of just in an isolated area, which you seemed very happy with that idea at the time of our meeting.
• The event has been approved to continue on the basis on what we discussed and agreed upon and that was not to place anything in the ground.
Please let me know what questions you have or if there are any concerns from this point on as again your event is getting nearer and I want to make sure that you have a very successful and fun experience.
The Illini Republicans, with the backing of the Illinois College Republican Federation, mobilized the student body, into signing a petition and phoning their objections to the chancellor’s office.
On Wednesday the Illini Republicans posted this update:
## UPDATE ## We just got the word that the University Administration has decided to revisit their policy on allowing us to continue with the 9/11 Remembrance Project. We don’t know yet what they have in mind, but this is certainly a result of the pressure that we’ve been building. Thank you all for your help and support, if you want to be a part of this incredible project, please let us know and sign up in the form below.
An hour later, they reported:
The chancellor’s office received hundreds of phones calls, according to Truth Revolt, leading to its decision to allow the ceremony. In order to save face, however, the university said it will allow the flags to be planted around the perimeter of the quad, which was essentially what the Illini Republicans planned to do all along.
The volunteers who will be planting the flags were committed to doing so with or without the university’s permission, irrigation concerns be damned, Truth Revolt reported.
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