Sometimes a good idea is something more than just another good idea. Rick Randall Jr.’s concept of creating a 10th anniversary memorial in the Heartland to those lost on 9/11 was just such an idea. With simple and eloquent symbolism—flying a flag for each of the victims and first responders lost—Randall’s memorial idea became one of those rare, viral notions that made it possible for a community to mobilize around creating something memorable and positive from their outrage and grief and their respect for everything that was stolen from America on the morning of September 11th, 2001.
When word reached Guarantee through Randall’s extensive network of friends and colleagues that resources and volunteers were needed to create a 9/11 Memorial, it seemed like a chance to do something entirely in character for the company. We were pleased to provide know-how and material support, together with fabrication and logistical resources. The Heartland Remembers Nine Eleven was a true community effort, initiated by Mr. Randall, Senior Vice President of Development at Pace Properties, who assembled a great team that also included Castle Contracting, and Stock & Associates together with a host of other companies and hundreds of volunteers.
For Ed Rode, assistant treasurer and facilities manager at Guarantee, the 9/11 Memorial project struck a special chord, because of his son's experience as a Marine in Iraq, where he’d been wounded in a bomb attack. For Harold Baca, GECO’s Director of Engineering, his son, engineer Paul Baca and Senior Designer, Mike Deterding the project offered a chance to provide technical design assistance in the symmetrical placing and arranging of nearly 3,000 American flags on Art Hill in St. Louis' Forest Park.
What was accomplished by the three men from our engineering department was, as engineering problems go, an easy one to manage; if you knew what you're doing. With the number of flags called for, it required surveying and measuring out of a grid on what amounts to a concave hillside on the great lawn, above Grand Basin and in front of the statue of Saint Louis. And then a simplified method using aircraft cable was devised for properly locating each flag in its exact place in the matrix.
What was truly amazing were all the hundreds of volunteers—kids and retirees, whole families—who showed up at Guarantee's warehouse on weekends in July and August, forming the ad hoc assembly teams that put the nearly 3,000 flags together, marking each pole with the name of a 9/11 victim—and who gave their time for the display set-up on the weekend of September 10th -11th and again for tear-down two weeks later.
"Those many hands made it all so much easier," says Ed Rode. "But equally remarkable was how moved people were by the event itself, quietly walking through the display, stopping and reading the names.” The display seemed to tap-in to a deep desire for people to remember, which contributed to the enormous demand for the flags. In the end, over 2,500 were sold to the public, collecting over $100,000 for the Injured Marines fund. Demand was such that to accommodate it that nearly a thousand additional flags were purchased and assembled.
As it happened, said Rick Randall some months later, those additional 900 flags made it possible to keep a promise made to donate the surplus to Larry Eckhardt, otherwise known as Larry the Flag Man, who uses hundreds of flags for funeral processions on behalf of Midwest area service men and women. And indeed, as a footnote to this story, the flags were used to notable effect at the funeral of Corporal Zach Reiff in Preston, Iowa on December 1st 2011.
Pictures of the Nine Eleven Flag installation in Forest Park, from September 11th through the 18th, say more than any words can about an occasion that has no parallel on American soil. We’re proud and grateful that Guarantee was able to play a small part in creating a fitting memorial here in the Midwest on the lawn overlooking Grand Basin in front of the St. Louis Art Museum and the statue of Saint Louis.