Today, I had the pleasure of meeting the students who were offered admission to the Saint Anselm Class of 2018. It is an exciting day: so many potential Anselmians, along with the family members who raised them to be the kind of bright, motivated young men and women we think belong here in our community on the Hilltop. We do a lot to transform these students into engaged, productive citizens—but I know very well that it all starts with the family.
Today, at the Admitted Student Open House, hundreds of these students and families shared a special experience: the National 9/11 Flag, a symbol of the strength and compassion of the American people in the face of tragedy. The flag is on display this week at Sullivan Arena.
The 9/11 Flag is one of the largest that flew over Ground Zero. It was repaired by many hands in many locations throughout the country, and stitches have been added from the original “Star Spangled Banner” and the flag that cradled Abraham Lincoln after he was shot. American history is woven into the fabric of this flag.
The 9/11 Flag is so treasured by our country that it is going to be permanently installed at the September 11 Memorial and Museum at the site of the World Trade Center. Saint Anselm College is privileged to be its last stop on its journey through all 50 states.
Jeff Parness, the president of the New York Says Thank You Foundation, told us how he began the organization that has been the guardian of the flag. The foundation (of which I am a board member) sends volunteers across the country to help communities affected by disaster.
It wasn’t the first time I had heard the story, but it still affects me powerfully. The overwhelming feeling I had as I joined the families who were here to experience Saint Anselm College and the 9/11 Flag, was one of movement and progress.
The New York Says Thank You Foundation started with an idea from Jeff’s young son about sharing his toys with children in San Diego who had lost theirs in fires. The idea grew and gained momentum, and now brings help and hope to so many people. It seems like every good idea about this flag led to another—including the 9/12 Generation Project, which activates students in hands-on service learning projects.
Now, the flag truly is the modern version of the Star-Spangled Banner.
As Jeff told his listeners, this flag is not just about what happened on 9/11, but what happened on 9/12: the start of a wave of compassion and service. I hope the future Anselmians at our open house felt it and will be called to be a strong and caring part of our community and the world beyond.