Around mid to late August, the media started buzzing about the upcoming 10th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. Special interviews, documentaries, and replays of the tragic events filled our televisions – a reminder of what happened a mere ten years ago. It’s unreal to see how much our world changed since that day.
Across the country, people remembered the victims of 9/11 in a variety of ways: prayer services, candlelight vigils, and simply being with one’s family. One memorial that I hadn’t heard about, however, was the flag memorial on Art Hill in Forest Park. Eric, a friend of mine, caught my attention on Facebook. He wrote:
If anyone hasn’t gone to Art Hill in Forest Park to see the flags you should. A flag for every person that died on September 11, 2001.
Art Hill isn’t too far from school, so I decided to go with a few friends. I’m so glad that I did. Little did I know that I would be witnessing one of the most beautiful and solemn memorials that I had ever experienced. Driving through Forest Park, you could easily spot the flags from afar:
Yes, those are all flags. Nearly 3,000 of them. There were 2,996 casualties as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks (19 hijackers, 2,977 victims). Never have I seen so many flags in one place. At this point, I was already awestruck and impressed with the display. We decided to walk closer to the flags, and here is what we saw:
Climbing-up Art Hill led us to the beautiful flag hanging from the pillars of the Art Museum:
From the top of Art Hill, we gained another impressive display of the thousands of Star Spangled Banners floating over the grass:
Although you may appreciate these pictures, they really don’t do the memorial its justice. You had to be there to experience the sense of how massive 9/11 was in terms of casualties. The impressive display, to say the least, put the numbers into perspective.
Walking among the flags, I couldn’t help but consider the powerful elements of symbolism in the memorial:
- As you can tell from my photographs, I visited the memorial in the evening. Art Hill was illuminated in the nighttime by five generator light fixtures. The same type of lights were used following the collapse of the World Trade Center and The Pentagon, as rescue workers relentlessly searched for survivors around the clock.
- Art Hill is no small hill. Climbing to the top of the hill reminded me of the firefighters climbing the stairs of the World Trace Center in their mission to rescue survivors.
- A noticeable breeze was present when I visited the memorial. The fluttering flags could represent the ever-enduring memories of those who lost their lives on 9/11.
- The lights cast shadows of every flag on the grass beneath them. To me, these shadows represent the emptiness that countless people experienced when they learned that a loved one, a friend, or a co-worker perished on 9/11.
- Upon reaching the top of Art Hill, spectators could glance over the entire exhibit of nearly 3,000 floating flags. Seeing all of the flags in its entirety reminded me of our changed nation that was immediately united in prayer that day.
Our national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner,” illustrates just how significant and enduring our flag should be to every American:
O! say can you see by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
I’d like to leave you with one last photo of my friend Bobby, glancing down at the nearly 3,000 flags as he remembers what had happened only ten years earlier:
Thanks for reading. May God bless you always, and may God bless America. -BL