In Mid-September of 2014, 13-year-old 8th grader Kyle Case was speaking with his mother and told her that he did not learn anything in school about 9/11, when terrorists attacked the two World Trade Center buildings and the Pentagon. A fourth plane was brought down in a field in Pennsylvania, saving countless American lives. According to Kyle, his school never had a moment of silence or anything to remember or honor victims of this horrible attack on American soil.
He and his mom looked into the events that led to 9/11 and the aftermath of the attacks and stumbled upon the Never Forget Project by the Young Americans foundation. Kyle is one of millions of children born post-2000, and he was not even a year old when we were attacked. Like those who were born after the attacks on Pearl Harbor, Kyle and students his age may only learn about 9/11 through history books and video recordings. It was unfortunate, he said, that his school did very little to teach them about the attacks that happened within a year of their birth.
Kyle kindly agreed to an interview with Advancing Colorado about his project this year, as a 14-year-old freshman in High School. In his own words:
Advancing Colorado: Tell me a bit about the project.
Kyle Case: The project was planing 2,977 flags, one for each victim, to honor them. We really didn’t know what we were doing until we actually got the flags and got a location.
AC: What were some possible locations for you to display the flags?
KC: We wanted to do on the Old Courthouse Lawn. And we figured we’d ask the commissioners first. So we went there and we asked them. They said, “No,” because it might offend someone. I didn’t say it, but I wanted to say, “That makes no sense, because this is the American Flag.” They said, “If we say yes to this, we have to say yes to everything.”
It still didn’t make sense to me, because this is the American flag. There’s one flying outside. If it’s going to offend someone, take down the big one too. Or say yes to us.”
AC: Did you go to a County Commissioner Meeting?
KC: We went to the County Commissioners. One of them would say “No” to our request, then the next, and then the next. They said their reasons they wanted to say “Yes,” and then reasons they couldn’t. It was a unanimous opinion of “No.”
AC: Where did you end up going after the County Commissioners rejected your request?
KC: We went to a bank, Yampa Valley Bank. That’s right off Highway 40, so it was a really good area to do it. My mom set up the meeting and talked with P.J. Wharton. They were excited to do it.
We put the flags up at 5:30 on 9/10, had them up all day on 9/11, and we took them down at 11:00 am 9/12.
AC: What were you going to do with the flags after the event?
KC: We have a GoFundMe account. We also have an open bank account at Yampa Valley Bank, so people can just go in and give them 50 bucks and say, “I want to donate to the 9/11 Never Forget Project,” and go into the account. It’s as easy as that.
We’re about 100 bucks short of $2,977. (AC Note: as of September 21, the project had met its goal and raised $3,056.26).The surplus of money is going to a guy named Kevin Nerney, who retired two weeks before 9/11. He was a firefighter in New York and moved to Steamboat. When he heard what happened, he got on a plane and went to Ground Zero and helped. As a result, he now has brain cancer. Since he was technically retired, the insurance companies aren’t helping him. We figured he was a perfect guy to give the money to.
AC: Did anyone contact you about your project?
KC: 9News did a story about it, and then there were a lot of news articles about it here in Steamboat. There hasn’t been any negative reaction quite yet. I am kind of terrified that there’s going to be some anti-American people that find out about this and come to Steamboat. If they do, they don’t know where I live.
AC: Have any of the Count Commissioners said anything to you or your family since the news article?
KC: I believe one of them has tried to contact me. She emailed my mom asking for my email.My mom said she wouldn’t give her my email address, because she would only use it to make up for her vote. We know they look bad for their votes, and we want to hold them accountable for what we thought was a really stupid reason to say no to us.
We applaud Kyle Case and his mom for putting so much effort into remembering the victims of 9/11. It’s important for us to remember the attacks on against the United States and work towards policies that will help protect our residents. Many Americans have lived through two attacks on U.S. soil – Pearl Harbor and 9/11. The September 11 attacks happened just 14 years ago, but it is still very important for us to remember the attacks.
We also think that Kyle has an excellent point about the County Commissioners. If the flag could be considered offensive, why does the building have a flag flying above? Should a government prohibit a display of speech because it might offend someone? We think these commissioners made a poor decision.
Advancing Colorado is a free-market organization, but we like to take the time and effort to recognize Coloradans that make a big difference in their communities. Thank you, Kyle Case (and Laura Case) for your efforts to remember the victims of 9/11.
GoFundMe link: https://www.gofundme.com/cz2bkyh9
Routt County Comissioners:
Tim Corrigan: firstname.lastname@example.org
Douglas Monger: email@example.com
Cari Hermacinski: firstname.lastname@example.org