9/11 flag display stirs in the breeze


By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

The popular annual flag display came back to West Sacramento on Saturday, Sept. 7. But the 9/11 memorial contains some flag stories within the flag story.

The flags’ size and their grouping all make a point, explained Nancy Vinson, wife of chief flag organizer John Vinson.

For instance, the large flags:

“There are 300 – one for about each 10 victims (of the September 11, 2001 attacks). They’re in 13 rows – one for each of the original colonies. And the small flags, there’s one for each person lost at each attack site.”

That adds up to over 3,000 flags overall.

One group of flags is dedicated to those killed when one hijacked plane hit the Pentagon during the terrorist attack.

“There are 125 flags, for those that worked in the Pentagon and died there,” said Vinson. “Inside, there are 59 – for those who were on the plane that hit the Pentagon.”

There’s a grouping for police from the New York Police Department and the city’s port authority (60 flags), and one for the firefighters killed that day (343, many of whom went into the doomed twin towers in New York).

Then there is the group of 40 slightly larger flags in one group at the display.

“This is Flight 93,” said Vinson. “These flags are a little bit bigger. The reason, John says, is because they were the first heroes. They were the first people to fight back (against their hijackers). They actually diverted their plane from its hijacked course, where it was probably going to hit the Capitol building or the White House or some other target on the East Coast.”

And there’s something new at the flag display this year: a group of four flags honoring those who lost their lives to the bombs at the Boston Marathon in April.

This banner carries a slogan featuring the Twin Towers in New York, and the signatures of scores of veterans and firefighters. Flanking it are John and Nancy Vinson. (News-Ledger photo)

This banner carries a slogan featuring the Twin Towers in New York, and the signatures of scores of veterans and firefighters. Flanking it are John and Nancy Vinson.
(News-Ledger photo)

The annual flag display also shows off a banner to which any passing service veteran or firefighter is invited to sign. Dozens have, including vets from Iraq and Afghanistan as well as at least one from World War II.

John Vinson, a Sacramento contractor, reports that the flag display went up with help from a group of volunteers – including some from the local fire department’s “CERT” (Community Emergency Response Team) program. It’s scheduled to come down Thursday morning, September 12 – leaving today as the last day for visitors to take a look.

Last year, John Vinson’s flag display drew over 2,000 visitors. For many, it’s become an annual event every year..

Last Wednesday – the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks – the site at Jefferson Boulevard and South River Road was scheduled to host a horn player from “Buglers Across America.” Early in the morning, at the exact moments of each of the hijacked airplanes’ impacts, the bugler was scheduled to ring out a rendition of “Taps.”


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