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