ST. LOUIS – It’s a sea of red, white, and blue in Forest Park, as more than 7,000 American flags have been set up at Art Hill for the annual Flags of Valor display. It’s part of a tribute to those who lost their lives for our country during the War on Terror campaign.
This week marks the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
“The flags show patriotism and sacrifice. It’s hard to encompass what this means when you have so many flags and lives lost, knowing this is a family friend, all trying to figure how to go ahead,” Keath Hausher, the president of the Patriot Training Foundation, said.
Hundreds of Gold Star families visited the display and say it’s a symbol of the nation’s appreciation of the sacrifice of servicemen and women for our country.
“It was a good way to honor people who served our county and who have paid the price and it’s an important time to remember and honor,” Joy Arcese said.
Each flag bears photos and dog tags of the person it represents.
“It’s mixed emotions to see, from heartbreak to heartwarming,” said April Johnson. “I’m overwhelmed with emotions to actually put my son’s dog tag on a flag. Knowing they will not be able to come back is heartbreaking but a honor at the same time,” said April Johnson.
Approximately 1,000 volunteers were able to put more than 7,500 flags in the ground. Those being honored include the 13 service members killed recently in a surprise attack at the Kabul Airport in Afghanistan, considered to be the final casualties of the U.S. war in that country. One of the flags is for Wentzville native Marine Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz, who was killed in the attack.
“Today is Labor Day. It’s a good time to stop and remember everyone who served and who lost their lives since 9/11,” said Jim Pettit, director of operations for Greater St. Louis Honor Flight.
The Flags of Valor display will remain on Art Hill in Forest Park through September 12.