James River High school cadets plant nearly 3,000 flags for lives lost on 9/11

Published: Sep. 10, 2021 at 12:20 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 10, 2021 at 6:20 AM EDT
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CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WWBT) - The impact the terrorist attacks had on Americans stretches far beyond the lives of those who lived it.

A group of Navy Junior ROTC cadets from James River High wasn’t even alive when the towers fell, but Thursday, they wanted to make sure those who lost their lives are never forgotten.

They went through dozens of cans of spray paint and thousands of flags to complete a memorial for all 2,977 lives lost 20 years ago.

“We have first-year cadets that were born in 2007 or 2008, so this is years after 9/11. They have no recollection,” said Steve Prince “To connect this for them is a huge opportunity to help them understand what this means.”

Prince is the cadet’s Naval Science instructor and helped supervise this project, but make no mistake, this was student-organized and led.

These students sprayed every marker, drilled every hole, and planted each flag with the promise that they would never forget. This is the school’s second year planting flags outside of Mission BBQ on Midlothian Turnpike.

“I feel like it’s obligated of me to come help and serve them as they once served us,” said Ethan Henry.

Henry helped lead the dozens of cadets to plant the flags.

“One of the things I want people to understand is how big 2,977 is; everybody can put it as a quantitative value but until you see it in person - it’s a lot different,” Henry said. “That’s what I want people to really, truly see is how many lives were lost.”

Cadets like Campbell Fields felt a particularly strong connection to the flags with yellow ribbon.

“That special section is 425 flags that are for all first responders who lost their lives on 9/11,” Campbell said. “Even though I wasn’t born yet, it still hits me close to home - not just because my dad is a first responder, but because those are fellow U.S. citizens and fellow people who ended up not being able to see their family again.”

These cadets hope that as people drive past the memorial they will do their part to reflect on the significance of 9/11.

“You’re placing a flag for that victim’s family, and I think everyone got the honor of helping them out,” Henry said. “Their lives will be eternal. Their loss will be forever mourned, and that’s something we need to honor.”

This memorial will be up on Midlothian Turnpike all weekend through 9/11.

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