By Friday evening, nearly 3,000 flags will once again dot the massive green space of Memorial Park. The 911 tribute began nine years ago, started by a victim’s sister who lives in Omaha.
Every year Lynn Castriano has planted a flag in Memorial Park for every person who died in the terror attack.
Those from Nebraska have a gold ribbon on them.
Placing thousands of flags is difficult but Lynn has help, both physical and emotional.
Lynn Castriano says, “This has really become a community event rather than a personal remembrance which is wonderful that is exactly what my hope and goal would have been for this so the more the community becomes involved the more it becomes something the community wants.”
This year the Irvington Volunteer Fire Department will display their piece of the World Trade Center.
Lynn Castrianno said she and a couple of other family members had a nagging feeling they had to do something following the death of her brother, 30-year-old Leonard Castrianno. He had been working on the 105th floor of the north tower of the World Trade Center, when a terrorist steered an airplane into the building.
"Leonard was fun-loving. He liked to have a good time. He was also one of those people you could trust and depend on. He was a really good friend,” Castrianno said.
Her feelings, she said, have shifted in the eleven years since the tragedy. “At first there was a lot of anger and a lot of sadness,” she said. "I can look at that day as being horrific and one of the worst days of our lives, which it was… but there was an incredible sense of community. And I don't know if people really remember that. I do."
Volunteers will meet at Memorial Park at 6 p.m. Friday to reinstall the flags for another anniversary. Castrianno said none of it would have been possible without longtime supporters like the Rotary Club of Downtown Omaha, the Exchange Club and the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of St. James-Seton.
"I get so much positive feedback year after year after year about how much the flags mean to people, how much it means to them to have a place to go to remember."
Every single flag is tagged with a victim’s name, age and circumstances on September 11, 2001. The markers tell exactly where they were when the terrorists attacked. And there is a special circle for the 10 victims with Nebraska ties.
For children, not even alive when 911 happened, it’s a chance to learn about that chapter in history. "It really puts a face to a name,” she said. “It does it in a way that I'm not sure any textbook can ever really convey."
As she was dusting off the bins from her basement, where Castrianno stores the flags, she said, “I'm in a much different place today than I was eleven years ago. I feel like today I can look at it a little differently."
“When I think about 911, I think about community, I think about all the people who were there not only for all of us that lost someone but for everybody in the nation, how we all came together.” She hopes to see that kind of spirit envelop the country again, without a tragedy prompting it.
The flags will be on display at Memorial Park through September 16th.