ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Thousands of American flags are visible to Forest Park visitors in St. Louis for the next several days. The display is called Flags of Valor. Organizers call it a tribute to honor the heroes and victims of 9-11.
“There are a lot of people in St. Louis who care about the sacrifices that these young men and women have made,” said Rick Randall, Flags of Valor co-founder.
Approximately 1,000 volunteers were able to place more than 7,500 flags in the ground Sunday morning. This year’s display also honors the memory of all service members who have been lost in the war on terror following the September 11th attacks.
The first flags of valor display took place on the 10-year anniversary of 9-11. The display now returns every 5 years. Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of the attacks. The display also pays tribute to civilians killed in the attacks.
“We’re honoring the victims of 9-11 with 6 beautiful picture boards at the grand basin, then we’re honoring the first responders with 412 flags and the soldiers with 7,054 flags.”
The display also includes special dog tags and photos of victims attached to the flags. Organizers try to connect each flag with the family of each victim once the display is over. That effort can be supported by sponsoring a flag. https://flagsofvalorstl.com/sponsor-a-flag/#section-content
U.S. Army Specialist Spc. Jackson Johnson was killed in Kuwait in 2019. His mother, April Johnson, helped with the volunteer effort Sunday.
“We want to make sure that every soldier, including our hero, is never forgotten,” she said. “We ask that everybody says their names, you know, say their names out loud.”
The tributes include flags for soldiers killed in the recent airport attack in Kabul. Some Afghan refugees also helped with the volunteer effort, including a translator who served with U.S. Army Special Forces.
“We’re here to remember all of our brothers who lost their life,” said Bacha Wali Bacha.
The tribute is also an emotionally moving scene for 9-11 survivors. Krista Salvatore escaped the World Trade Center’s south tower minutes before it collapsed. She’s forever grateful for the first responders who risked their lives to save others.
“I just have a lot of respect and appreciation for everything they do,” said Salvatore. “To see the efforts of everybody come together and put this on, it just reminds you that we haven’t forgotten.”
Paul Carlock is a volunteer who joined the effort after learning about the first display in 2011.
“I get back tenfold what I give in terms of generosity and kindness from these gold star families,” he said. “They are without a doubt some of the kindest people I have ever met.”
Flags of Valor will remain on Art Hill in Forest Park through September 12th.
For more information visit www.flagsofvalorstl.com.