Forgetting 9/11 not an option for Steamboat Springs residents |

Forgetting 9/11 not an option for Steamboat Springs residents

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.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Sixteen years after the terrorist attack that shook the United States to the core, residents of Steamboat Springs continue to try to memorialize the day and host events to mark it.

"I don't remember it all," said Kyle Case, who had not celebrated his first birthday when members of the terrorist group al-Qaeda on Sept. 11, 2001 hijacked four commercial airliners and launched a coordinated attack against the U.S., flying 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.

"It's just the fact that so many people died, and at this point in our country, it seems just like a regular day that happened 16 years ago,” Case explained. “Since then. 6,000 people have died as a direct cause of it, and I just wonder, 'Why don't we talk about this?’ It changed our country forever."

For the past three years, Case has marked the day by organizing an effort to place thousands of American flags on the yard in front of Yampa Valley Bank. This year, Case and the volunteers placed nearly 6,000 flags there.

The Yampa Valley High School junior is working to graduate early and will hand over the project to Paxton and Kendra Sollars in 2018. Case hopes the effort will be carried on and that the sacrifices of that day are never forgotten.

"The reason I started it was because they never said anything about it at the middle school — we didn't even have a moment of silence," he said.

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Harriet Freiberger not only remembers that day but can recall the moment she heard the news while driving from her home in North Routt to Steamboat Springs.

"I was on my way into town on Colorado Highway 129," she said. "I had just passed the old Warren ranch, so the radio only came on sporadically. I hit a spot, and the radio was on, and that's how I heard about it in the car."

Like many Americans, Freiberger was overcome with emotions that day in 2001 — strong feelings that fueled her desire to never forget. Every year on Sept. 11, she organizes a moment of silence at the Yampa River Botanic Park, which offers a place for those who want to come out and share their feelings as a group.

Though the terrorists who initiated the attacks had hoped to tear the country apart, Freiberger said remembering what happened is a way to bring people together.

"We always hear about all of our division, and how much we distrust each other, and people seem on the alert to fight back about everything these days," she said. "I think this day is here to remind us that America is something a lot bigger than we  are all looking at … This is America, and we are all supposed to be different, but we all believe in something good.

"We need things to remind us what we are about in this country — that it is about real freedom," Freiberger said.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.

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