September 11 has come to be a memorial day of sorts in the United States. In New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania, we remember the people who died when the planes hit the World Trade Center and Pentagon in 2001. We remember the people who forced the fourth plane down in a field in Pennsylvania rather than die crashing into a symbol of American power.
On 9-11, we also remember the people who have died in the conflict that followed. The War on Terror has claimed the lives of over 7,000 members of the Armed Services. Most American families got lucky – including mine. Everyone came home. But for those whose family members didn’t, September 11 is particularly painful.
In St. Louis, a group called Flags of Valor has been putting up displays of flags around town for a few years about this time. In 2016, though, they outdid themselves. Volunteers put over 7,000 American flags – one for EVERY service member killed in the War on Terror – on one of the city’s most recognizable pieces of real estate, Art Hill in Forest Park.
Art Hill is the apex of what was the World’s Fair Grounds in 1904. Our publicly owned, and tax-payer supported art museum sits at the top behind a statue of the city’s patron, St. Louis, King of France. (Louis IX from the Crusades.) On this glorious day, September 11, 2016, this writer stopped by. This is what I saw.
Each flag has a dog tag hanging from it with the name and photograph of the service member it represented.
At the entrances, there were legends to help all of us regular people understand the significance of the tags.
Anyone was free to walk through the rows. This was a lot of flags. At the bottom of the hill, on the far side of the reflecting pool, the sheer number was mind-boggling.
But really, what made it special was the sound of the dog tags hitting the flagpoles in the breeze.
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Yes, we remember. Thank you, to all the departed, for your service. May God have mercy on your souls.