Chesterton Tribune



Flag installation at Chesterton High School remembers those lost in 9/11 attacks

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This morning, Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, at 6 a.m. Chesterton High School staff and student volunteers, under the direction of CHS staff member Mary (Nallenweg) Whitmer, continued the tradition begun by O’Keefe family of placing 2,977 small U.S. flags in the grassy area in front of the CHS Stadium along 11th St. in Chesterton.

Each flag bears the name of an individual lost 16 years ago in the infamous terrorist attacks on the United States.

The flags will be on display until the end of the day today.

The O’Keefe family began this tradition the year after the 9/11 tragedies and students and staff have continued ever since.

Originally, this event was organized by the CHS Conservative Club with the help of Kathleen O’Keefe and teacher Michael Okeley. Okeley was a former service member in the U.S. Army and O’Keefe would go on to serve in the U.S. Navy.

Each flag has the handwritten name of a victim in the 9/11 terrorist attacks - 2,977 in total.

Assisting with this year’s flag placement were CHS Football coach Mark Peterson, CHS Wrestling coach Chris Joll, International Baccalaureate Diploma Program students and teachers, Mitch Nelson, and Bryan Nallenweg.

School officials Mary Beth Nallenweg and Jennifer Gregoline help to preserve and replace the flags as needed.

About 50 students participated in the planting of the 2,977 flags early this morning.

The entirety of CHS’s freshman class was born after the 9/11 attacks and the seniors were only three or four years old at the time.

Kathleen O’Keefe (2008 CHS Grad) started the first commemoration. At the time she was a charter member of the CHS Conservative Club and was assisted in part by her sister Colleen O’Keefe (2011 CHS Grad) and several other volunteers.

Together they approached businesses and individuals to donate money to purchase the flags and secured permission from the school administration. Colleen continued the tradition every year thereafter, coordinating volunteers and working with the school planning the event. In 2012, their sister, Kasey O’Keefe (2015 CHS Grad) took over coordinating the event, approaching students and faculty for volunteers, gaining administration permission and serving as public relations officer.

Several volunteers gave their time and energy to this memorial, including her sister Hayley O’Keefe. Hayley continued the tradition until 2016 when she also graduated from CHS.

The flags

There are 2,977 flags placed on the grass of Chesterton High School. Each flag carries the name of an individual who lost their life in the tragic attacks of September 11, 2001.Ê

Additionally, a Tenth Anniversary commemorative flag, whose red and white strips are made up of the names of each victim of the three attacks, stands between two American flags. Together, these three flags represent the three attack locations, center flag: The World Trade Center Twin Towers in New York City, right flag, The Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, left flag, the crash of United Airlines flight 93 in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.



Posted 9/11/2017




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