By George Sells | KTVI | fox2now.com | September 19, 2011
Flags can be purchased on site for a $40 donation
ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI - FOX2now.com)--It has been one of the most talked about artistic displays to come to St. Louis in some time. The 9/11 flag tribute on Forest Park's Art Hill has been the talk of the town since the nearly three thousand flags were placed there early in September. Monday, it was taken down, but its impact is sure to be long lasting.
The adjectives used to describe the display are countless. It's been called, beautiful, majestic, even chilling.
And Monday, as the poles were pulled from the ground, one by one, Rick Randall's labor of love reached what all good things achieve: and end.
"I feel really, really fortunate to have been involved in this," he told us. "I'm still kind of emotional from the week. I heard so many stories and so many people talked to me about their feelings about 9/11 and this memorial."
There are so many of those stories. Cindy Cooper was retrieving a flag for her dad, a World War II veteran.
"He served with Arthur Russo and his son, Wayne Allen, was lost in the World Trade Towers," she told us.
Wayne's flag is just one of nearly three-thousand. Think about that. Think of what every single one of them means. Cindy has.
"You just don't realize how many people that is until you look at those flags and realize every one of them represents a human life and a family and a loved one. And it was just overwhelming."
Of course most out at the park have a specific name they were looking for. Many of them wanted to remember a first responder. Most in demand: the firefighters.
You saw a number of St. Louis firefighters sprinkled in the crowd, quietly buying flags. Dozens lined up, some to purchase one, others buying several.
The future of these flags is a fitting end to the tribute. They'll be taken to the homes of the people they moved, with money, forty dollars a flag, going to a fund for injured marines.
"I can't say I feel sad about seeing them come down because these flags are being put to such great use," Randall said as his display was coming down.
Randall told us he had never met anyone who lost someone on 9/11. That, of course, has changed. And after this sweeping red, white, and blue gesture, so has he.
"The tragedy that day, he said quietly, "I'm a lot closer to it now."
The flags that are not sold will be donated to Larry Eckhardt. He's the Illinois man they call "the flag man." He lines funeral procession routes of fallen soldiers with the stars and stripes.