By: Hillary Cherry, Program Officer of Public Relations
More than 200 colleges and high schools across the nation
participated in Young America's Foundation's 9/11: Never Forget
Project. Students came together to establish an American flag
memorial on campus consisting of 2,977 flags representing each
person murdered in the terrorist attacks. Unfortunately,
five student protestors at Middlebury College ripped the flags out
of the ground before 3:00 pm.
The 9/11: Never Forget Project has been an annual
nonpartisan event at Middlebury College for the past ten years. By
participating in the 9/11: Never Forget
Project, students honor the victims of the attacks, as
well as honor the American principles for which they died.
Middlebury student groups spent nearly two hours setting up the
flag display yesterday morning. The protestors told Ben Kinney,
president of the conservative club on campus, they were
"confiscating" the flags in protest of "America's imperialism."
The protestors refused to compromise with the students because
the flags were supposedly located on an "Indian burial ground and
you can't have anything penetrating the Earth."
By removing the display of 2,977 flags, not only did the five
protestors disrespect their fellow students who worked hard on
setting up the display, but they also took away the chance for
other students to remember the victims of the horrific attacks 12
These five student protestors should be immediately sent to
diversity training regarding respect for others' freedom of speech.
What they did was neither noble nor righteous, it was irrational
and disrespectful. Each of them should apologize for dismantling a
beautiful display honoring American heroes.
The vandals were quick to reference their heritage, but in an email to the Huffington Post the school's director of public affairs, Sarah Ray, admitted it has "never before been suggested that this is a Native American burial ground." We have grown tactlessly familiar with leftists, such as
Elizabeth Warren and Ward Churchill, hiding behind made-up Native
American backgrounds to cover their own prejudice toward
Two of the vandals have published statements on Climate-Connections.com only proving their intolerance.
Statement by Amanda Lickers:
i am a young onkwehon:we, a woman, a member of the turtle clan
and the onondowa'ga nation of the haudenosaunee confederacy. i
have been doing my best to be true to the responsibilities i
have inherited through the gift of life, and the relationships
i must honour to my ancestors and all our relatives.
for over 500 years our people have been under attack. the
theft of our territories, the devastation of our waters; the
poisoning of our people through the poisoning of our lands;
the theft of our people from our families; the rape of our
children; the murder of our women; the sterilization of our
communities; the abuse of our generations; the
uprooting of our
ancestors and the occupation of our sacred sites;
the silencing of our songs; the erasure of our languages and
memories of our traditions
i have had enough.
yesterday i went to occupied abenaki territory. i was
invited to middlebury college to facilitate a workshop on
settler responsibility and decolonization. i walked across
this campus whose stone wall structures weigh heavy on the
landscape. the history of eugenics, genocide and colonial
violence permeate that space so fully like a ghost
everywhere descending. it was my understanding that this site
is occupying an abenaki burial ground; a sacred site.
walking through the campus i saw thousands of small
american flags. tho my natural disdain for the occupying
colonial state came to surface, in the quickest moment of
decision making, in my heart, i understood that lands where
our dead lay must not be desecrated. in my community, we
do not pierce the earth. it disturbs the spirits there, it is
important for me to respect their presence, their want for
my heart swelled and i knew in my core that thousands of
american flags should not penetrate the earth where my abenaki
brothers and sisters sleep. we have all survived so much - and
as a visitor on their territories i took action to respect
them and began pulling up all of the flags.
i was with 4 non-natives who supported me in this action.
there were so many flags staking the earth and their hands
helped make this work faster. this act of support by my
friends, as settlers, tho small was healing and inspiring. we
put them away in black garbage bags and i was confronted by a
nationalistic-settler, a young white boy who attends
the college demanding i relinquish the flags to him. i held my
confiscated them. i did not want to cave to his support
of the occupying, settler-colonial, imperalist state, and the
endorsing of the genocide of indigenous peoples across the
it is the duty of the college of middlebury to consult with
abenaki peoples and repatriate their grounds.
yesterday i said no to settler occupation. i took those flags.
it is a small reclamation and modest act of resistance.
in the spirit of resilience, in the spirit of survival
Statement by Anna Shireman-Grabowski:
To the Middlebury community -
Today I, along with a group of non-Middlebury students, helped
remove around 3,000 American flags from the grass by Mead Chapel.
While I was not the only one engaged in this action and the
decision was not solely mine, I am the one who will see you in the
dining halls and in the classroom, and I want to take
accountability for the hurt you may be feeling while clarifying the
motivations for this action.
My intention was not to cause pain but to visibilize the
necessity of honoring all human life and to help a friend heal from
the violence of genocide that she carries with her on a daily basis
as an indigenous person. While the American flags on the Middlebury
hillside symbolize to some the loss of innocent lives in New York,
to others they represent centuries of bloody conquest and mass
murder. As a settler on stolen land, I do not have the luxury of
grieving without an eye to power. Three thousand flags is a lot,
but the campus is not big enough to hold a marker for every life
sacrificed in the history of American conquest and colonialism.
The emails filling my inbox indicate that this was not a
productive way to start a dialogue about American imperialism. Nor
did I imagine that it would be. Please understand that I am
grappling with my complicity in the overwhelming legacy of settler
colonialism. Part of this process for me is honoring the feelings
and wishes of people who find themselves on the other side of this
I wish to further clarify that members of the local Abenaki
community should in no way be implicated in today's events. Nor can
I pretend to speak to their feelings about flags, burial sites, or
Today I chose to act in solidarity with my friend. I understand
that this action is confusing and hurtful for many in my community.
I don't pretend to know if every action I take is right or
justified-this process is painful and complicated. I do know that
colonialism has been-and continues to be-a real and destructive
force in the world that we live in. And for me, to honor life is to
support those whose existence is a struggle against
Please do not hesitate to email me or approach me if you wish to
discuss this in person.