Middlebury student desecrates campus 9/11 memorial

A photograph from the Middlebury Campus student newspaper showing Middlebury College student Anna Shireman-Grabowski desecrating a 9/11 memorial on campus Sept. 11. She had help from off-campus accomplices.

A photograph from the Middlebury Campus student newspaper showing Middlebury College student Anna Shireman-Grabowski desecrating a 9/11 memorial on campus Sept. 11. She had help from off-campus accomplices.

— More than 200 colleges and high schools across the country proudly displayed nearly 3,000 American Flags on Sept. 11 as part of the 9/11: Never Forget Project. Middlebury College has been a participant for a decade and the event is well received in the community. This year was the exception.

Just before 3 p.m., students witnessed five individuals, including one student, ripping the flags that represent each life lost during the terrorist attacks from the ground. The project is a non-partisan event that occurs annually with the help of the college’s Republicans and Democrats. The conservative group’s president Ben Kinney watched the flags being uprooted, but was unsure of what was happening at first. The protestors told Kinny they were “confiscating” the flags to protest “America’s Imperialism.”

While the identity of the student was originally unknown, Middbeat.Org, a student-run website, released the name Anna Shireman- Grabowski, claiming that she had come forward to confirm her involvement in the protest and identifying herself in photographs taken at the memorial.

In the statement, Shireman-Grabowski says, “While I was not the only one engaged in this action and the decision was not solely mine, I am the one who will see you in the dining halls and in the classroom, and I want to take accountability for the hurt you may be feeling while clarifying the motivations for this action.”

Shireman-Grabowski claims that the area where the memorial was located is an ancient Abenaki burial ground and should be treated with respect.

“My intention was not to cause pain, but to visibilize the necessity of honoring all human life and to help a friend heal from the violence of genocide that she carries with her on a daily basis as an indigenous person. While the American flags on the Middlebury hillside symbolize to some the loss of innocent lives in New York, to others they represent centuries of bloody conquest and mass murder,” the statement given to Middbeat.org read. “Three thousand flags is a lot, but the campus is not big enough to hold a marker for every life sacrificed in the history of American conquest and colonialism.”

Vote on this Story by clicking on the Icon


JennyP 2 years, 4 months ago

I fail to see how violating a 9/11 memorial helps anyone 'heal' from completely unrelated past wrongs. There is nothing noble in such an act, and the justification given for it is infantile blather that does not actually contain an apology.

Apologies contain words like: "I am sorry. I was wrong. You are right. This was a bad idea, I hurt you, I am sorry that I hurt you, my logic was faulty and I admit that I did not think this through."

An apology is not a wishy-washy statement of sort-of-responsibility, followed by defensive excuses strung together, or invoking an ancient blood feud as justification for being thoughtlessly cruel.

If she has been truly led astray, then Ms. Shireman-Grabowski needs to find new friends who are a positive influence on her and who will have better ideas on how to spend a beautiful Autumn day, than taking part in vandalism and revenge against innocents.


Clemmieo 2 years, 4 months ago

What a disgrace to all those who needlessly died on 9/11. Has the college reprimanded them in any way? Say, suspending them? I have a suggestion: they should all be sent to Kano State, Nigeria, a country I lived in for a long time; for a month. I would like to see how they cope with few amenities, a hostile environment to Christians and Jews and even Muslims who do not think as they do, and dodging the bullets and machetes of Boko Haram. If they survive all this, I am sure they will kiss the Earth on their return. As a Native Vermonter - Wilder, WRJ - of which there are few left, the Middlebury College I loved and wanted so much to attend Breadloaf in the summers, has apparently changed its views. Or has it? I hope I hear something positive that the College has done to reprimand these students severely.


Sign in to comment