College conservatives say they overcame fierce resistance at some liberal schools like UCLA, University of Virginia Law, and Marietta College, over holding 9/11 memorials and vigils for those killed. But most schools eventually changed course and now more than 260 colleges and high schools are participating in Young America's Foundation's 9/11: Never Forget Project.
"Ever since Young America's Foundation started the 9/11: Never Forget Project in 2003, we have faced stiff resistance. This year is no different, except this time liberal college administrations are starting to wise up and realize they're fighting a losing battle," said spokesman Ronald Meyer Jr. [Read: 9/11 Memorial rejects sculptures of Twin Towers as nudes.]
Ron Robinson, the foundation's president, added, "Every year, Young America's Foundation runs into roadblocks from college administrators. Instead of embracing the remembrance of the thousands of innocents who were murdered on 9/11, many college administrators are more interested in creating political correctness tests than coming together to honor the victims of the Jihadist attacks."
The foundation and others blamed political correctness and bad timing for some of the resistance, though most schools agreed to hold memorials of some sort before or on Sunday's 10th anniversary of the attacks in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. [See a collection of political cartoons on the "ground zero" mosque controversy.]
In many standoffs, members of the conservative youth group had to intervene, said the spokesman. The Foundation began the 9/11: Never Forget Project in 2003 after noticing that many anniversaries passed with little notice or attention on college and high school campuses. "We continue to assist students in dealing with hostile college administrators who resist remembering the heroism and tragedy of 9/11," said Meyer.
Young America's Foundation laid out its fight with Marietta College on its blog, claiming that the school tried to pull the plug at the last minute. Since it changed course, the Ohio school has won media praise for hosting a candlelight vigil.
The group also said it tussled with administrators at the University of Virginia School of Law, where students planned to set up a flag memorial, with one flag for each of the 2,977 killed. Initially, according to the foundation, the school balked because it wasn't related directly to legal education. Later the school gave in.
At UCLA, according to the group, the school worried that planting flags would be hazardous to students. The school later said OK, but at another location. [See photos of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.]
Explaining the idea behind the project, and how it ties to freedom on college campuses, Meyer said, "Al Qaeda attacked America because of the ideals it represents. The 9/11: Never Forget Project is as much about honoring the victims of the attacks as it is honoring the American ideals they died for."
Corrected on 09/08/11: An earlier version of this article referred to the Young An earlier version of this article referred to the Young America’s Foundation as a Republican student group. The Young America’s Foundation is a nonpartisan nonprofit.