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Stories from the valley

West Sacramento Tribute to 9/11

Contributed by Roberta Firoved

John Vinson started an annual project, which he will turn over to his daughter on the 20th anniversary of 9/11 – September 11, 2021. The memorial is located on an empty lot at the corner of Jefferson Boulevard and Locks Drive in West Sacramento. Over 2,000 flags represent the loss from that tragic day. Each tribute is made from a wooden frame depicting the loss, for example the Pentagon memorial is the shape of the building. Holes are drilled in the wood and small flags are placed – one for each person lost. The United Flight 93 memorial is in the shape of an airplane and the flags are slightly larger and include each person’s name and seat number. 

The memorial has grown to show terrorist attacks to Americans on United States soil and abroad since 9/11. Three generations of John’s family volunteer their time to the memorial, which will continue as a non-profit. 

Like many American tragedies, I will never forget that day or what I was doing. It was a Tuesday. I was not in the habit of turning on the news in the morning before heading to work on the public bus. It was a quiet ride as people were softly talking about what they knew. Arriving at work, coworkers were huddled around radios and several were sobbing. We did not know the scope of the tragedy or whether it was over. The phone rang, and it was my supervisor calling from a conference in Colorado. His instant comment was, “You are there.” I replied, “I did not know what else to do.” His task was to find a way home after all flights were cancelled and airplanes grounded. I was dismissed from work a few hours later and found a ride home.

Returning home, I was glued to the television set. Suddenly a sense of shame came over me after realizing I did not own an American flag. I went to the local hardware store and purchased a flag from the dusty display. That flag now flies in front of my home during every holiday and most specially on 9/11.