After school on
Monday, Sept. 10, Chesterton High School (CHS) staff and student volunteers,
under the direction of CHS support staff member Mary Beth Whitmer, continued
the tradition the O'Keefe family began in 2007 of placing 2,977 small U.S.
flags in the grassy area in front of the CHS Stadium along 11th St. Each
flag bears the name of a soul lost 17 years ago in the tragic terrorist
attacks of September 11, 2001. The flags will be on display until the end of
the day. The O'Keefe Family began this tradition the year after the 9/11
tragedies and have continued ever since.
“This year was a
little different on the set-up of the flags,” said Whitmer. “We had to place
the flags in the afternoon the day before due to the school corporation’s
first scheduled eLearning day.” Students and members of the CHS staff were
cognizant of the importance of continuing the tradition that our community
has come to appreciate in honor of those that lost their lives in the 9/11
event. Students from the Wrestling team, Social Justice League,
International Baccalaureate, National Honor Society, as well as many other
students helped, along with CHS faculty members Chris Joll, Mitch Nelson,
History of the Flag
(2008 CHS Grad) started the first commemoration. She was a charter member of
the CHS Conservative Club and was assisted by her sister Colleen (2011 CHS
Grad) and other volunteers. They sought donations to purchase the flags and
secured permission from school administration. Colleen continued the
tradition, coordinating volunteers and working with the school. In 2012,
their sister Kasey O’Keefe (2015 CHS Grad) began coordinating the event,
recruiting volunteers, getting administration permission, and serving as
public relations officer. Several volunteers gave their time and energy to
this memorial, including her sister Hayley, who continued the tradition
until 2016 when she graduated from CHS.
There are 2,977
flags placed, each carrying the name of an individual who lost their life in
the tragic attacks of September 11, 2001.
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; and left flag--the crash of
United Airlines flight 93 in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.