Volunteers place flags ahead of Patriot’s Day ceremony at Southeast Missouri State University

Volunteers place flags ahead of Patriot’s Day ceremony at Southeast Missouri State University

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - The lawn of Academic Hall at Southeast Missouri State University is draped in red, white and blue.

Volunteers spent Tuesday planting thousands of small American flags in front of the building ahead of tomorrow’s solemn anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

SEMO’s Office of Military and Veteran Service has organized the Patriot’s Day ceremony for five years.

A total of 2,977 flags were placed in the ground. Every single one represents a life lost during the terrorist attack 18 years ago.

SEMO student Alex Elsey is also an active member of the Missouri National Guard and quickly signed up to help.

“It’s one of the many reasons I joined because seeing that happen. I don’t want that to happen to us ever again, so I definitely want to be here and be able to support our country however I can,” Elsey said. “To know that I am putting something up for them really means a lot. It really hits the heart hard, knowing that what I am doing is to help represent them and show that I still remember them.”

Dozens of other students, faculty and staff at the university and community members who walked by also took some time to place a flag and show their support.

“It makes me feel good inside knowing that people are still impacted by this and really see it as a significant part of our history,” Elsey said.

Organizer Katie Friese says she will never forget watching the tragic event on TV.

“It’s almost a traumatic memory that you think of September 11th and immediately you think of planes crashing into the Twin Towers,” Friese said.

She is glad younger volunteers who learned about 9-11 in a history book are also pitching in.

“They were more than willing and appreciative to put the flag into the ground," Friese said. "Even if they weren’t alive and they weren’t part of that history when it happened. They still want to remember the history of it.”

The university is hosting a flag ceremony at Academic Hall at 7:30 a.m. the morning of September 11.

Friese says they scheduled it that early so students could attend before class and so military taps will play at exactly 7:46 am, which is the time the second plane hit the Twin Towers.

Copyright 2019 KFVS. All rights reserved.