1,800 flags to represent fallen soldiers
John Reid places flags in honor of the tenth anniversary of the beginning of the Afghanistan war on October 5, 2011. | Tyler Otte/THE CHIMES
Approximately 1,800 American flags will be posted across Biola lawns Wednesday afternoon commemorating the 10th anniversary of the war in Afghanistan, Operation Enduring Freedom. The initiative, Operation Let’s Roll, which was named in honor of the last words of Todd Beamer who took down the terrorists on Flight 93 during the Sept. 11 attacks, was organized by junior John Reid, former sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps.
“The main underlying factor is to create awareness of the lost lives and the blood that was shed not only for our freedoms but for freedoms of other nations,” Reid said.
Each four-by-six flag will bear the name, age, rank, branch of service, and date of death of the approximately 1,800 soldiers killed in action. Reid said that the flags are expected to be delivered at 3 p.m. on Wednesday. The original intent was to receive the shipment by Tuesday evening so that the project would be in full force by the time students roamed campus the following morning. However, due to the large order and Reid’s vision coming into fruition within the past week, it was not attainable.
The operation was pre-approved by Associated Students and then by administration, although it was not an easy process.
“Facilities needed a banner number, but since this is an independent project, I didn’t have it,” Reid said. Senior John Drebinger III, AS president, received and supported the proposal, where it was then sent it to administration for authorization.
Though the operation gained approval from AS and administration, Reid said that he would have followed through regardless, not out of an act of rebellion but in order to create awareness.
“I would do this even if I weren’t a Marine,” Reid said. “I really was going to stop at nothing to do this and that’s not to say I would fight the system because this is for a greater cause.”
In concert with his vision to spread awareness, Reid is talking literal. The flags will be very similar to the special exhibit of 2,996 flags that were set up on Metzger lawn in the shape of a cross commemorating those who had lost their lives on Sept. 11. The main difference will be the placement of the flags.
“It will be spread out across most lawns on campus,” Reid said. “This is because we want to cover as much campus as we can just to give people a visual.”
Reid said that a driving force behind the project came from a lack of patriotism he feels many people have. He elaborated that although this may ruffle some feathers, especially those of Christian pacifists, the purpose is not to sway anyone into supporting or opposing the war, but merely to spark conversation through something that is real. Although Reid undoubtedly expects controversy at his doorstep, he thinks that the majority will react positively to the exhibit.
“I think it’s going to be good because I don’t know if Biola has ever done something that displayed a lot of patriotism,” Reid said. “So I think they are going to see it, say that it’s something different and really think about it.”
However, Reid said that he is very aware and ready to face any criticisms this may ignite. Being involved with various churches throughout his seven-year involvement in the Marines, Reid said that it was a regular occurrence to be nailed left and right by pacifists and that he is prepared to defend what has been done in the war as well as in Operation Let’s Roll.