Events give community members chance to remember 9/11, and those who perished in terrorist attacks

Flags fill the front lawn of the Yampa Valley Bank in Steamboat Springs as a reminder of what America endured on Sept. 11, 2001. The remembrance has been organized by Yampa Valley High School student Kyle Case for the past three years. He will hand off the project to Paxton and Kendra Sollars next year.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

When Kyle Case started planting American flags on the lawn at Yampa Valley Bank in 2014, he was hoping to start a tradition, and he wanted to make sure that residents were reminded of the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

In the years that followed, Case’s vision for “Never Forget Project” has grown along with the number of flags. After he graduated in 2017, he handed the project on to Kendra and Paxton Sollars, who passed the tradition along to Alley Kvols in 2021.

“In seventh grade we did a whole section on 9/11 where we learned about that day,” Kvols said. “I guess I knew about it before that, but I really didn’t know what had happened, how many people lost their lives and how it impacted our country.”

A short time later, the Sollars, who were nearing graduation, approached Kvols and ask if she would step up and lead the “Never Forget Project” to memorialize the people who died, to honor the first responders who rushed to the scene and to give young people like Kvols, who was born in 2006, a way to feel more connected to the event that changed our country forever.

“She learned about it through history class, and of course we talk about it to her,” said Alley’s mother Ann Kvols.

Eight year ago, Case planted 2,977 flags for the people who died in the attacks. This year, Kvols will place nearly 6,000 flags, not only recognizing those who perished on that day 21 years ago, but those who have since died as a result of the contaminated dust they breathed as they rushed to the World Trade Center hoping to help after the buildings collapsed.

“I just think it is important for people our age to honor the victims who lost their lives that day,” Kvols said. “It’s important for us to know about that day, how these people lost their lives and how they tried to save one another.”

Ways to remember

Friday Sept. 9

4 p.m. Volunteers will plant nearly 6,000 flags on the lawn of Yampa Valley Bank to recognize those who died on Sept. 11, 2001 and those that have perished in the years following from health conditions that resulted from the air at ground zero.

4:30 p.m. — A brief presentation by announcer Vladen Chase that includes area first responders speaking about the impacts of 9/11, and their appreciation for the men and woman who made the ultimate sacrifice on that day.

Sunday, Sept. 11

5 p.m. —  A brief memorial service to remember the victims of 9/11 will be held at 5 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 11, at the Children’s Amphitheater in the Yampa Valley Botanic Park. The ceremony will be held rain or shine and feature 15 minutes of inspirational music, followed by remarks from community members who want to honor the victims of the terrorist attacks in 2001, and commemorate the anniversary.

Ann and Alley Kvols feel the 9/11 memorial that blooms along U.S. Highway 40 just east of downtown is an important reminder for those who were alive on that day, but it is also important for those who have learned about the attacks from the news, in class through text books and from what they can find on the internet in more recent years.

In Steamboat, the message has been passed from one generation to the next each year in September when high school students lead an effort to transform the lawn of Yampa Valley Bank into a sea of red, white and blue flags that wave with the autumn breeze.

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“That’s really our hope, is to get young people involved in this. Of course there are going to be some adults involved,” said Lauren Beversluis, who volunteered to help this year. “But we really want the high schoolers to be the leaders and help get this organized.”

The junior varsity hockey team will lay out the grid on Thursday night and once again this year, local 4-H members, as well as members of the Steamboat Springs cross country team will join the effort. Student leader Alley Kvols has been joined by Carys Walker and Daniel McLaughlin to lead the effort.

She added that anyone else wanting to help out can show up at 4 p.m. when the actual flag planting is slated to begin at the Yampa Valley Bank, which has once again offered its lawn to be a home for the memorial.

Ann Kvols said Vladen Chase will act as the announcers for a special ceremony at 4:30 p.m. where local first responders will have the chance to pick up the microphone to express their gratitude and respect for the first responders who made the ultimate sacrifice after the terrorist group al-Qaeda hijacked four commercial airliners and launched a coordinated attack against the U.S. The terrorists flew two planes into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and a third into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. The fourth plane crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, killing 33 passengers and seven crew members.

The community of Steamboat Springs will take a moment to recognize those that died, and the heroes who responded during an event that is now more of a tradition.

“It’s great because people drive by and honk their horns,” Alley Kvols said. “Last year we had a couple of people come by and say that they were planting a flag for their son and I was like, ‘Oh. my gosh’ it just really hit home.”

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