A high school in Minnesota canceled its students’ plans to honor victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks last week, and in doing so labeled memorializing those lost on one of America’s most somber days as a political action.
“Never forget” apparently means something different in Ely, Minnesota, to adults whose job is supposed to be to educate and guide young people.
In this case, those young people — students at Ely Memorial High School — wanted to plant American flags in honor of every person killed by radical Islamic terrorists on a day that forever changed the trajectory of our country and world, according to a report Thursday by the Young America’s Foundation.
In today’s political climate, however, doing so is apparently controversial, even in a small town.
Ely’s chapter of the conservative student group had plans to participate in the nationwide 9/11: Never Forget Project, which saw students take the initiative on the 20th anniversary of the events in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington to plant 2,977 American flags, one for each of those killed.
YAF’s national event asked students to “schedule a campus-wide moment of silence or prayer on September 11, at 9:11 a.m.”
The group also asked students to organize fundraisers to collect an estimated $540 for the nearly 3,000 flags.
Students in Ely took up the charge, and their planned remembrance ceremony was initially approved by school officials. But days before the kids were set to honor those whose lives were lost before they were ever born, their principal blew the whistle on the event when a district parent became triggered, the YAF report said.
Northern Minnesota’s The Timberjay newspaper started a campaign to cancel the event after it was contacted by a person who was not happy that an event that students organized with YAF was going to be conducted at the school. The paper reached out to the school for comment and the entire memorial was derailed from there.
Days before the memorial, Ely Memorial High School principal Megan Anderson informed the young patriots that they were not permitted to plant the flags on campus, as doing so would be political.
“The Ely Student Council 9/11 Event scheduled for September 10th has been canceled. We will commemorate the 20th anniversary of September 11th at the Veteran’s Day ceremony in November,” Anderson said, according to the Timberjay.
Superintendent Erik Erie told the outlet his school district would not permit an action organized by students with the YAF.
“We are not partnering with the Young America Foundation,” Erie said. “What we try to do is to stay apolitical. YAF certainly has a strong political bandwidth on different issues. If it was a politically- liberal action committee or organization, we wouldn’t endorse that either. Or anything in the middle.”
Erie and other administrators in Ely apparently were attempting to avoid the political minefield altogether, but they forgot one thing: 9/11 is not political.
The students were taking the initiative to simply remember 2,977 fallen Americans — innocent people who were murdered through a series of terrorist attacks 20 years ago that changed the world.
Those kids will never know what the pre-9/11 world looked like, but they showed the kind of reverence, respect and patriotism that many of our young people lack today.
Rather than be focused on weekend plans, video games or the MTV “Video Music Awards,” students in Minnesota spent their time last week attempting to honor people whom the country must never forget.
How were they rewarded? They were labeled as political activists and thrown under the bus by a school and community that managed to politicize a 9/11 memorial.
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