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The City Journals

Healing Field Flag Memorial marks the 20th anniversary of 9/11 attacks

Aug 30, 2021 04:05PM ● By Ileana Brown

The 20th annual Healing Field Flag Memorial, organized by the non-profit Colonial Flag Foundation and Utah Healing Field Board, will take place on the Sandy City Hall grounds at 10000 Centennial Parkway. (Photo courtesy Colonial Flag Foundation)

By Ileana Brown | [email protected]

On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Al Qaeda terrorists aboard three hijacked passenger planes carried out attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. A fourth plane crashed into a Pennsylvania field after crew and passengers attempted to take control of the hijackers. Nearly 3,000 people were killed in the attacks that shocked the nation and became the deadliest foreign assault on U.S. soil. 

The country crumbled for a bleak moment as friends, family and loved ones became engulfed with despair. Yet, just as quickly as those were lost, America unwaveringly transformed into the proud and strong “United We Stand.” 

“Twenty years ago, on Sept. 11, 2001, three determined firemen managed to raise the American flag on a mangled flagpole amid the vast destruction at ground zero,” said Paul Swenson, president of the Colonial Flag Foundation Board of Trustees. “Within 24 hours, individuals across the country saw the first sign of hope rising from the ashes. From that powerful image of hope and strength, woven in the Stars and Stripes, came the inspiration for the first Healing Field display of flags.” 

The 20th annual Healing Field Flag Memorial, organized by the non-profit Colonial Flag Foundation and Utah Healing Field Committee, will take place at the Sandy City Promenade, at 10000 Centennial Parkway, from Sept. 8-13. On Wednesday, Sept. 8, at 5:30 p.m., volunteers will post more than 3,300 flags in remembrance of the 2,977 victims of the terrorist attacks, our Utah fallen soldiers, and first responders who have died since 9/11. 

On Sept.9, the field will officially open to the public. Visitors can read the personalized tags attached to the flags with each victim's name and a short bio. In addition, there will be a 14-poster exhibit from the 9/11 Memorial Museum titled “September 11th, 2001: The Day That Changed the World.” 

“My hope is that each of us will slow down, walk through the flags alone or with our children and remember that day 20 years ago when we lost so many and stood together,” said Swenson.

On Sept.10, Rockin Hot Rod Productions hosts the “United We Stand” classic car show featuring local cars in the parking lot of the Aetna building at 10150 South Centennial Parkway, from 5-8 p.m.. 

The event will include awards, raffles, and food trucks. Following the car show will be a “One Light, One Life” luminaria light display by Real Salt Lake. Volunteers are encouraged to arrive at 6 p.m. to help Real Salt Lake and mascot Leo the Lion place luminaries by each flag to light up the field. The tribute representslight through darkness, offering hope and healing to friends and families who lost loved ones that day.

On Sept. 11, the day’s events begin with a “Ride to Remember” motorcycle ride. Riders will meet at Barbary Coast Saloon (4242 South State Street), at 6 p.m., then proceed to Sandy City Hall with a police escort. At 7 p.m., Conner Gray Covington will conduct the Utah Symphony to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. 

Covington states, “All of us at the Utah Symphony are honored to partner with Utah Healing Field to present a concert to commemorate the tragic events of that day. We've chosen music that will provide a sense of comfort and healing to the audience but will also serve as a way to promote a feeling of optimism and unity moving forward.”“ 

The symphony will perform John Williams' “Hymn to the Fallen,” Elgar's “Nimrod” from “Enigma Variations,” Copland's “Lincoln Portrait” and Valerie Coleman's “Umoja: An Anthem for Unity.” Tickets for this performance are available at utah20th.eventbrite.com.

The performance is in conjunction with the annual “Honoring the Fallen” from each branch of the United States Military, including all fallen soldiers and first responders from the state of Utah. The patriotic observance includes the national anthem, a flyover by four F-35s performed by Hill Air Force Base, the presentation of the colors, a 21-gun salute, a bugle performance of “Taps,” and a performance by The Utah Pipe Band, all until 8:30 p.m. 

Funds raised through donations and sales and the event will support ongoing charitable programs of the Colonial Flag Foundation. These programs include service dogs for veterans, child abuse prevention, food banks, homes for heros and homeless veterans assistance.

Two decades later, hundreds of organizations have hosted Colonial Flag Foundation programs, raising millions of dollars for local charities. 

“The legacy of all these souls that were lost that day lives on through the millions of lives that are touched by those that walk among the flags and those that are assisted and uplifted through the thousands of benefiting charities,” Swenson said. 

The Healing Field will be open to the public until Sept.13, at 5:30 p.m., when volunteers will take down the flags. All flags are available for sale. Flags can be sponsored for $35 and taken home after the event. For more information visit, www.healingfield.org/event/sandyut21/ or 911flags.org.