2,977 American Flags In Memoriam
F lapping, fluttering, flailing in the morning breeze still yet to warm, the poles of thousands of flags — anchored with rebar which pierced deep into the expansive grassy knoll — stood at attention as their shadows were shortened by the rising sun on that picture perfect day.
Barely interrupting the solitude amidst a sea of red, white and blue was an unidentified woman — who in a poignant moment of patriotism and sorrow while bathed in yellow sunlight — spontaneously saluted those stars and stripes.
She then walked away.
2,977 American Flags In Memoriam
Although I had taken a few photographs of an official tribute to the 2,977 people who died on Tuesday, September 11, 2001 — similar to the permanent memorial in New York, as a result of wanton attacks committed by a cowardly band of suicidal terrorists seeking to wreak havoc on the American way of life — exactly 15 years later, it was amidst a crowded landscape of people swarming in and out of the flags…
…so I decided to return two days later to Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park in Georgia on a tranquil Tuesday morning, fittingly during the time of day when the destruction of four airplanes and three buildings had occurred, causing those 2,977 innocent people to perish — twelve more people than there are acres in the entire park.
I walked out onto the field which had seen soldiers battle during the final stages of the Civil War of the United States, when the Union Army was closing in on its prize of Atlanta during what was known as the Atlanta Campaign. Walter Clark of the First Georgia Infantry is quoted as having said:
“Standing beside the breastworks on that summer evening, under the shadow of grim and silent Kennesaw, with twilight deepening into night, there were shadows on all our hearts as well, shadows that stretched beyond us and fell on hearts and hearthstones far away, shadows that rest there still and never will be lifted.”
Yet standing on that summer morning — under the shadow of the silent great green guardian known as Kennesaw Mountain, with sunlight drenching the land of the day — there were shadows of those stalwart flags, shadows that stretched beyond me and fell on the former battlefield, shadows that will remain etched in the hearts of those who viewed them long after they will have been removed.
Sometimes the flags appeared orderly, planned and in line…
…and sometimes they appeared random, chaotic and wild.
At times, you might actually believe that they were mourning the deceased and departed.
They even seemed to weave a fabric of sorts representing the mosaic which comprises the United States…
…but they always appeared to exude glory, majesty and pride.
Who would have thought that a patchwork of red, white and blue cloth could evoke such emotion from its onlookers? Who could believe that a solemn salute of stationary symbols would be more powerful than the unthinkable horror which changed the world on that fateful day 15 years ago?
I left the field that morning with an odd sense of fulfillment — as though I somehow contributed to perpetuating the memory of those who are gone forever by the simple act of paying a visit…
…so I have dedicated this article to the memory of the 2,977 souls who lost their lives 15 years ago. May they rest in peace; and may we never forget.
All photographs ©2016 by Brian Cohen.