GV, West Michigan remember 9/11 attacks


GVL / Annabelle Robinson

Gillian Hanton, Staff Writer

In memoriam of the attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, Grand Valley State University and the Grand Rapids community have devoted a series of events to remember those who lost their lives in the tragedy. 

On GVSU’s campus, Student Senate organized a flag display. For several years, the organization has taken on the responsibility of making certain that the fallen are recognized and honored. This past Saturday, their memorial of 2,977 flags was available for viewing on the East Kirkhof Lawn, with each flag representing a life lost in the attacks. 

“We acknowledge that this memorial has become more than only commemorating the lives lost, but also recognizing the lives that are still impacted today by 9/11,” said Student Senate Vice President of Public Relations Eldon Pearson. “We stand in solidarity with the family and friends who lost a loved one in the attacks and those who continue to suffer today with 9/11 related illnesses and injuries.”

This year commemorated the 20th anniversary of the tragedy, strong sentiments arose for GVSU students, staff, and faculty. Yet, the Student Senate body continued to remain confident in the community’s capacity for supportiveness, unity, and compassion as the process of reflection took place. 

“Each year, new students transition into both Grand Valley and the Student Senate body, and yet each year, students from across the campus community come together and create an opportunity to reflect and remember the lives lost in these events,” Pearson said.  

Additionally, prior to the home football game on Saturday, Sept. 11, Student Senate Vice President of Diversity Affairs, Kyle Gineman, and Vice President of Educational Affairs, Faith Kidd, ran a table outside Lubbers Stadium at which students could write letters to military veterans. Students who wanted to play a more active role in paying tribute opted for this choice, as their contribution would make a direct impact on someone who defended the United States. 

In the Grand Rapids community, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation hosted the 2021 Memorial Stair Climb, an annual event to honor the firefighters, police officers, and EMS workers who served on 9/11. The event took place on Saturday at the L.M.C.U Ballpark, where single participants and multi-person teams undertook the challenge of climbing the equivalent of 110 stories, the same height as the World Trade Center. 

However, the foundation did not stop with just a physical tribute. With the help of over 300 participants and roughly the same number of donors, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) raised a total of over $29,000 as of September 10th, 45% more than their original goal of $20,000 according to the NFFF website.

Among the largest donors were corporations such as the Superior Foods Company, Michigan residents Carl Perrin, Mary Perrin, Roger DeHaan and Mike Vogt, and a generous anonymous donor who claimed the second-largest donation slot. In addition, the top team effort donations consisted of fire departments from all over West Michigan, including Walker, Grand Rapids, Algoma, and Lowell. Proceeds from the event will be used to subsidy local firefighters and provide for the families of those who lost a loved one in the attacks.