Updated: May 28
It’s the where-were-you-when moment of our generation.
Each American’s story starts with a description of the weather. “It was a clear morning, not a cloud in the sky,” the contrast between serene conditions and the horrific attack on September 11, 2001 creating a sense memory that none of us who were alive can shake.
In the immediate aftermath, planes were grounded. Major League Baseball halted. Hiring freezes went into effect. But most importantly, innocent lives were lost.
And while we all vowed to never forget, Rick Randall channeled his emotion in a more positive direction.
On September 10, 2011, Rick and a team of volunteers planted 2,977 flags on Art Hill in St. Louis’ Forest Park—one flag for every life lost ten years prior. Founding partners, including Pace Properties , Guarantee Electric, Castle Contracting and Stock Engineering brought their resources and experience to make it happen.
The spectacle, spread across multiple acres and surrounded by the statue of Louis IX and the Grand Basin reflecting pool, provided a breath-taking memorial that stood for visitors and family members for a full week.
Rick never forgot.
In 2016, the event grew to honor 6,869 fallen service men and women in the War on Terror. 2021 marks the 20-year anniversary. Sadly, the number of memorialized heroes will grow, as will the importance of educating the next generation.
They weren’t alive in 2001. They didn’t experience the collective gasp and ensuing uncertainty. But thanks to the efforts of people like Rick and America’s Heartland Remembers, they’ll have the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding.
This year’s Flags of Valor event begins on September 6th and runs through the 12th. Over 7,000 flags on ten-foot poles, installed by 500 dedicated volunteers, and several oversized informational installations will paint the picture.
It’s one thing to never forget. It’s another to actively remember.