9/11 anniversary

OC Firefighter Pays Tribute to 9/11 Victims Using 2,977 Flags to Honor Lives Lost

For six days in September, he created a detailed accounting of the firefighters, the office workers and the lives lost among the four hijacked planes.

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For nearly 20 years, an Orange County firefighter has decorated his front yard as a tribute to 9/11, but it’s more than flags and crosses. He says it’s a slice of history created so that people never forget.

There is a reason Scott Townley needs to tell the story of Sept. 11th.  

“Three hundred forty-three firemen, just like me, were killed on that day,” he said.

Townley is still one of them. He is a first responder whose heart is tied to the rescuers and those they tried to save.

“I don’t want people to forget we had a senseless act of terrorism that took thousands of lives in one day,” he added.

So for six days in September he created a detailed accounting of the firefighters, the office workers and the lives lost among the four hijacked planes.

In total, there are 2,977 flags. Each one bears a name, a place, and a memory of what disappeared that day. 

“I get really choked and emotional when family members can come and see that I've remembered them,” Townley said.

The display almost sprung up overnight, because four days after the towers collapsed, Townley knew he had to do something. 

After 20 years, the Fullerton man has also taken on the role of educator, explaining words like terrorism and post 9/11 deaths.

He spends day and night repeating the timeline for those who have only read about the World Trade Center attacks, because he says this is a story that didn’t end on that September morning.

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