DANBURY, Conn. — Drivers on White Street can't help but notice an eye-catching display of American flags planted in front of the Old Main building on the Western Connecticut State University's midtown campus in Danbury.
The 7,008 flags were placed by WestConn students and faculty to honor the U.S. service members killed in the line of duty since Sept. 11, 2001. With one flag placed for each individual's sacrifice in the War on Terror, the visual impact is undeniable.
Matthew Kuchta, WCSU Veterans Affairs Coordinator, organized the display, which was put in place with the help of the WCSU Student-Veterans Organization.
"We've done the display in the past by placing the flags along the sidewalks throughout campus," Kuchta said. "This year, we placed them all in one area, signifying we are a united country. It's a much better representation to really understand the amount of service members killed since the global war on terror began in 2001."
The flags used in the display are made entirely in the United States, Kuchta said. They are reused each year, unless they are damaged. Those flags that cannot be reused are properly retired following flag regulations.
The reusable flags are properly stored for use the following year. This year, the Lowe's store in Danbury donated 22 plastic bins for storage.
Putting out the flags is backbreaking work. But the display is how veterans have chosen to honor other veterans, Kuchta said.
"We all get calluses. It's a lot less of a sacrifice than what each flag represents," Kuchta said. "When we began, we didn't think it would take up the whole lawn, but the sad reality is, it does."
To view the full display in person, be sure to go between now and next Tuesday. The work of taking down the display and storing the flags will begin Wednesday, and just as putting it up did, will take a couple of days to complete.
Veterans Day is Friday, Nov. 11.