Sept. 11, 2001, is a day none of us should forget, but as the days, months and years march on, the horror and tragedy of that day softens with time.
That’s why Jamie Nimsgern of Nimsgern Funeral & Cremation Services in Woodruff has decided to do something about it.
On Thursday, Sept. 11, Nimsgern will be flying 25 specially-designed flags he recently purchased from the Flag of Honor website.
The flags, which he plans to display in a grassy area of his property along Margaret Street in Woodruff, include the names of all those who died in the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon, United flights 175 and 93 and American flights 11 and 77.
The inspiration for purchasing the flags came to Nimsgern when he was attending the National Funeral Directors Association meeting in Brookfield this past summer.
“At [the meeting] I saw on the wall they had this big flag that was all framed and I’m looking at it and realized it was ... a Flag of Honor. I was looking at it and thought, ‘boy, that would be nice to have just at the funeral home to put it in a frame,’” he said.
“Then I went on their website [flagofhonor.org] and they showed that they have a kit of 25 flags that they can fly. And in the article it said they would like to have a flag in all public places throughout the United States because as time passes people forget.
“So then I thought we could ... have them at the schools, at town offices, libraries and other buildings.”
In addition to flying the flags starting Thursday and probably through the weekend, Nimsgern will also be contacting local schools, libraries and town facilities to see if there may be an interest in the donation of a flag that could be either flown and/or displayed at the facility to keep the memory fresh for all residents.
“I thought it a good-will thing to do. But it will be up to those at the public offices to do with them what they want. Whether they want to fly it just that day or just have it hanging on an entrance on the wall ... it will be up to each place on what they want to do with it.”
While Nimsgern hasn’t yet contacted area officials about their accepting the donation, he hopes they will.
The flags to be displayed in Woodruff will be set with a radius of six feet between each so they can fly independently if it’s windy.
“I think having 25 flags up will be moving ... they are three feet by five feet. And I think by having five across and five deep they will be displayed nicely,” Nimsgern said.
I’m thinking of leaving them up through the weekend because if I do it just Thursday, people might not see [the display]. If we have it up through the weekend it gives it a little more chance to be seen by more people,” he said.
“Then I will take the flags down and go to all the different schools and to the libraries and all the town halls to distribute them.”
Flag of Honor
John Michelotti created the idea of the Flag of Honor and Flag of Heroes after he underwent heart surgery and was faced with his own mortality.
Stating his reasons for initiating the project, Michelotti included this on the website:
“On Sept. 11, 2001, my concept of what is normal was changed forever. I watched helplessly as thousands of lives were extinguished and the towers evaporated into dust. Like most Americans I watched it played over and over praying the outcome would somehow miraculously change. It didn’t.
“The victims and the heroes were our families, our friends and ourselves. They came from every background, every color, every ethnicity, every religion.
“My inspiration for designing the Flag of Honor and the Flag of Heroes was the desire:
• To immortalize the individual victims that were killed in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001;
• To give comfort to the families left behind knowing that their loved one will be forever honored and remembered; and
• To create an enduring symbol, recognized by the world, of the human sacrifice that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001.
Nimsgern also reflected on the importance of the meaning of the flags: “When you see a flag like this with thousands of names on it – it makes you reflect and be thankful for the freedom we have.
“We’ll give it a try and see ... hopefully it will be meaningful to people. Even if someone reflects just on that day and are thankful for what a great country we live in and the freedoms we have, it will be worth it; after all, there’s a lot that we take for granted.”
Reflecting on that fateful day 13 years ago, Nimsgern said, “All those people who were going to work that day ... and who would have ever thought that something like that would ever happen. I still remember that day. We ... had a golf outing for the Lions Club and so I was at home watching it and heard one of the newscasters saying that they had a report that a small plane had hit the World Trade Center and it was like, ‘you gotta be kidding me ...’”
Raymond T. Rivard may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.