Flags at Omaha’s Memorial Park honor those killed in 9/11 attacks

Published: Sep. 2, 2023 at 1:27 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - This month will mark the 22nd anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and although it happened many miles away from Omaha, residents continue to memorialize those who were killed that day.

Saturday morning at Memorial Park, 2,977 American flags were carefully placed into the ground.

“Each representing every individual that passed away in the attacks on 9/11,″ Dan Esch with Omaha’s Rotary Club said.

“Every flag has a designation, where they were, what location. the north tower, south tower, all the different planes, there’s a whole section devoted to the rescue personnel,” Lynn Castrianno added.

Every September, the Omaha Rotary Club, along with dozens of volunteers, meets at Memorial Park to honor those who lost their lives on that day 22 years ago.

“It’s kind of one of those things where you don’t want it to be just a number like, there’s almost 3,000 people that passed away, this really personalizes it,” Esch said.

The event is now run by the Rotary Club, but it all started with Lynn Castrianno.

“My brother was one of the people who was killed. He was in the north tower, which is the first tower to get hit, the second tower to fall,” she says. “To this day I still can’t believe he was there.”

On the third anniversary of 9/11, Lynn and other local families personally impacted by the attacks wanted to create a memorial here in Omaha.

“The thing we wanted to do was somehow put together a way that people could visualize the impact of 9/11, but not in such a horrific manner.”

It was then that she came across the idea of flags.

Since then, her idea has stuck, and now she comes back each year to help place the flags, honoring her brother, Leonard, and thousands of others alongside fellow volunteers.

“The fact that we have community members that come and do this every year is amazing,” Castrianno says.

Castrianno says one of her favorite parts of the event is being able to have open, candid, and educational conversations about 9/11, especially with those who may not have been alive when it happened.

She says seeing the flags also helps her remember some of the good that followed the attacks.

“The unity that our country felt after all of this happened was a pretty amazing feeling,” she says. “There was no divisiveness, everyone was for the common cause which was to protect our country, irrespective of what party you were with. Part of me would love to get back to that feeling of unity.”

The flags will be on display at Memorial Park through September 13.