FARMINGTON — Ten years ago today, George Boynton III of West Bath was in his sixth-grade class when his dad took him and his brother out of school.
“He said, 'Son, we've been attacked,' and I had no idea what that meant,” the University of Maine at Farmington senior said early Saturday afternoon.
On Saturday, Boynton and about 20 fellow UMF students commemorated the 10th anniversary of just what that meant by placing 2,976 small American flags on the lawn of Mantor Green.
Each 6-inch flag represented a victim who perished in the attacks on the World Trade Center towers in New York City, the U.S. Pentagon and United Airlines Flight 93.
In about 45 minutes, they created an image of the twin towers. Flags were arranged in 110 rows to represent the 110 floors of the towers.
Before and during the work, students shared their memories of 9/11 with one another. Growing teary-eyed, Boynton said his father, a firefighter, “took me with him because he wanted me to be safe because we didn't know what the heck was going on.”
“So he took me to work with him and I sat and watched the news for like eight straight hours, and I haven't been the same since,” Boynton said. “I come from a family of firefighters, so 9/11 really struck home.”
Kirsten Swan, director of the Center for Student Involvement, led the community service project, assisted by members of the Student Senate, the College Republicans, the Month of Service program, the Student Ambassadors Club, her colleagues and other volunteers.
Of those interviewed, all said they wanted to participate in the flag-placing to remember and mark the anniversary of the attacks that still remain vivid in their minds.
Student Veronica Penniman of Belfast said she was in the fifth grade a decade ago.
“I was going out to gym when the first tower was struck,” she said. “I remember that it was very scary, but we weren't told until later on in the day, because it was frightening. My parents wouldn't let me watch the news at all until, like, a couple of years later.”
“It was very scary,” student Felisha Taylor of Chelsea said. “I just didn't understand what being attacked meant.
“And when I saw what was happening on the news, it was frightening to see that we had gotten attacked by planes and transportation that happened every day and you just don't think that would happen to our country,” she said. “It was very upsetting, and I feel really bad for the families who lost their loved ones."
Beginning at 8:46 a.m. today, a bell will sound on Mantor Green, once for each of the 9/11 victims, Swan said. The flags will remain on the Green until Monday afternoon.
At 7 p.m. Monday, UMF will feature a free and open-to-the-public faculty panel on “Reflections on September 11” in Thomas Auditorium in Ricker Hall.