Tradition of remembrance
Taylor Tucker, 18, of Winnetka helps plant 3,000 flags on the Winnetka Village Green on Monday, Sept. 10, 2012 in honor of those who died in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. | Ryan Pagelow~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 13, 2012 9:09AM
WINNETKA — What began as a school project for one student continues to bring the Winnetka community together.
In 2008, North Shore Country Day School student Genevieve Nielsen planted roughly 3,000 American flags near the Cenotaph on the Winnetka village green in remembrance of the lives lost in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The one-time project quickly turned into a village tradition.
At the 2009 flag planting, Nielsen met then eighth-grade student Taylor Tucker, who volunteered to help plant the flags.
“I heard about it and thought it sounded really cool,” Tucker said. “We met and talked for a while. She also thought it was important to remember 9/11.”
Nielsen, who was getting ready to head off to college, wanted to keep the tradition going during her absence. That chance meeting and a surprise phone call was all it took.
“I was shocked she remembered me,” Tucker said. “She called and asked if I wanted to keep doing it. She went off to college and passed it along to me.”
Tucker soon acquired the nearly 3,000 flags and the money Nielsen had raised to purchase replacement flags. Tucker distributed posters for the event and sought volunteers, just as Nielsen did.
Several community members, including Tucker’s parents, Creed and Jessica, and two younger brothers, Elliott and Jackson, gather at the village green every Sept. 10 to begin planting the flags. They are left overnight and removed at dusk on Sept. 11.
“The planting goes very well,” Tucker said. “I’m always amazed at how many people come out and help. The Winnetka fire and police departments come out too. I’m grateful for all of them doing that.”
More than a decade later, the Winnetka community is one of many across the nation doing their part to honor the fallen.
“I think it’s something we should never forget,” Tucker said.
“We can’t replace the people who died, but at least we can remember them.”
With Tucker now preparing to head off to college next fall she has already thought of again passing on the tradition, this time to her brother Elliott.
“Elliott’s been a big help,” Tucker said. “He spoke on my behalf at the City Council meeting (in 2010) to get permission and that was a really great thing for him to do. Elliott can pass it along to whomever he wants. We want to keep it going as long as we can.”