Young Conservatives of Texas put politics aside to remember 9/11

The Young Conservatives of Texas organization regularly conducts 9/11 flag displays on college campuses across the state.

Campus Reform spoke with YCT students about what the tradition means to them.

As the 21st anniversary of 9/11 nears, Texas students are preparing to cast aside partisan politics to honor those that lost their lives.

This weekend, Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) chapters will memorialize 9/11 by planting 2,996 small stick American flags, representing each life lost in the attack. 

Johnny Uribe, chairman of Sam Houston State University’s YCT chapter, told Campus Reform that the organization’s tradition honors “the thousands of lives stolen on that fateful Tuesday morning in 2001.”

“We [YCT] made a promise in 2002 to NEVER FORGET… and we have kept that promise,” Uribe said. 

Young Conservatives of Texas is a state-wide nonprofit that advocates for conservative values by “educating students and the public, advocating conservative fiscal and social policies, campus activism, campaigning for political candidates, and rating the Texas legislature.” 

The organization currently boasts 22 chapters across the Lone Star state.

[RELATED: WATCH: Students think 9/11 lessons should omit ‘gruesome’ details, ‘avoid placing blame]

The University of Houston chapter planned its own remembrance event. The chapter will host a “Flag Planting Ceremony” at the campus’ World Trade Center Memorial, following its 9/11 program this Sunday at the UH Hilton Hotel Ballroom.

Favian Rodriguez, the chapter Chairman, told Campus Reform that the memorial aims to “pay tribute to the lives that were abruptly taken.”

“We mourn the [near] 3000 lives that were lost that day: a mother, a father, a son and daughter, a friend,” Rodriguez said. “Our values teach us to learn from the past, fix our present, and together seek a better future.”

Favian told Campus Reform that the event was inspired by YCT’s overarching motto, “Principles over Party.

“[It] is something we not only cherish, it’s something we live by,” Rodriguez said.

At the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, the YCT chapter intends to go “above and beyond memorials of the past” by planting larger flags, displaying “memorial boards” and distributing rubber bracelets that read “Remember the Fallen, 9/11 Never Forget.”

The memorial will be active on campus for 11 days, chapter Chairman Juan Almengor told Campus Reform. Students, alumni, staff, and community members are invited to visit the display.

“This Memorial is put on by students, many of [whom] weren’t born before the tragic attacks,” Almengor said. “This Memorial allows us to visualize the loss we suffered that day.”

Fredy Quiroz, chairman of the Houston Baptist University YCT chapter, also shared that it is important for the memorial to “serve as a visual reminder, highlighting the magnitude of the tragedy” as “the percentage of students born after 9/11 continues to grow.”

The tradition has been kept alive by YCT chapters since 2002. This year will be the first for new additions to the organization, including at Southern Methodist University.

“The whole club is looking forward to setting up this memorial for the first time for our new chapter,” chairman Brandon Vincitore told Campus Reform. “We are doing this to not only honor the lives lost but also to ensure that we the people never forget the tragedy that occurred on that horrific day.”

[RELATED: A look back at politicized reactions to 9/11 on America’s campuses]

University of Dallas, Texas Christian University, Texas Tech University, South Texas College, Baylor University, and University of the Incarnate Word chapters are also reportedly hosting memorials.

Uribe painted the annual event as unique because it unites both sides of the political aisle on campus- a rare feat, he attested.

“The impact this memorial has made on campus has been great because whether you’re a liberal or conservative, a Democrat or Republican, this one particular project unites us as AMERICANS as our founding fathers would’ve wanted,” he said.

Rodriguez shared a similar perspective with Campus Reform, noting that 9/11 “is not a Republican or Democrat issue, it’s an American one.”

“The only way to bring about a better future is not to erase [the] past, but learn from it to repair our present together,” he said.

Campus Reform contacted each chapter and university for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.

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