Reporting Kristin Marshall
WEST SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – A 9-11 tribute in West Sacramento grows each year, with hundreds of flags honoring the victims.
It’s the question we all ask each other on this day, “Where were you when it happened?” It’s a question most of us can answer with pure clarity, like John Vinson, who started the memorial over a decade ago.
“I got real angry,” said Vinson.
Photo Gallery: Annual 9/11 Flag Tribute In West Sacramento
So, he got an American flag after work and started waving it at a freeway overpass at rush-hour traffic.
Now years later, his tribute has grown to more than 500 large flags and 3,000 small flags — each honoring someone who was killed in 2001. He has separate memorials for each of the victims at the impact sites and tributes to the first responders who died trying to save them.
“The man who blew taps this morning, he brought it all back to me,” said Vinson.
Photo Gallery: 9/11: 12 Years Later
Every year, this memorial attracts more and more visitors. Some are looking for a place to honor the lost, others needing a place to reflect — like Richard Hannaford, who was in Tower Two when the first plane struck.
“When you see paper flying around, and you’re a quarter mile in the air, that’s not the normal way of things and that was my cue to leave,” said Hannaford.
He did and he survived; but he also lost. For this transplant New Yorker, he says East or West Coast, the pain is still very fresh, and is thankful for memorials like this that allow his loved ones to live on.
“It doesn’t matter where I am in the world, this day will always be a day of remembrance of what happened. It was an attack on U.S. soil; it’s the Pearl Harbor to our generation,” said Hannaford.
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“He needed a place to go. He went online and saw the field. He came out here and this is exactly why I keep doing this every year,” said Vinson.
The memorial has drawn several hundred people over the past week, and will be taken down Wednesday evening.
It is located at the corner of Jefferson Boulevard and South River Road in West Sacramento.