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Parents, students of Temecula Valley Unified School District (TVUSD) Abby Reinke Elementary School (ARES) have walked by this wall, traced the signatures, even watched as little one’s hands grow over the plaster impressions.
On Memorial Day Weekend, 2014, one mother and former TVUSD employee, Tina Olsen, recalls how this flag was conceived and constructed, recalled this Memorial Day Weekend.
“I remember 9-11-2001 like it was yesterday.
Not only did the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, The Pentagon, and the Pennsylvania field change the lives for so many people on the East Coast, but it reached all the way to ARES on the West Coast.
For faculty, parents, and students, it instilled this intense feeling of patriotism and love for our country while so many were hurting.
We managed to express our incredible heartfelt emotions for all that were lost on 9-11, during Friday Flag Salute, every single week after.
Imagine all 1100 students and staff singing “The Star Spangled Banner” somberly and stoically until we got to the line: “Gave proof through the night THAT OUR FLAG WAS STILL THERE!”
We would sing “THAT OUR FLAG WAS STILL THERE” loud and strong. As though we were singing it for the East Coast to hear. Week after week, year after year, it would always bring a tear to my eyes. That tradition remains.
That is why the flag handprint wall was conceived, out of pure love and patriotism for our amazing country. Something that was forever instilled in all of us at Abby Reinke on 9-11.
In 2005, I worked in the office at Abby Reinke while my children, Morgan and Eric were also students there.
Our then-principal, Katie Johnson, came up with the idea for the handprint flag wall and handed the job over to me to bring to fruition.
So many amazing parent volunteers helped me with the many details. This was not an easy feat. You see, every single tile within the flag bears the handprint and signature of a student, made from wet clay.
We had a wonderful artist that did all the glazing, artistry, and construction to culminate the project.
To me the wall represents all the people that lost their lives on 9-11, our AMAZING military, fireman, police officers, and all of the first responders.
Most importantly it represents that we are all united as ONE country and ONE family.
Thank you to all who have served, and are still serving our country. On a weekend that means more than just barbecues, we owe you a debt of gratitude.