A Quad Cities-area man, known for placing thousands of flags in public along military funeral routes, presented a moving display of flags in memory of the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Larry “The Flagman” Eckhardt, of Little York, Illinois, made it his mission to honor fallen military service members and veterans by placing hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of flags along the routes for their funeral processions. His work became so well-known the volunteers often step up to help him as he places those flags.
Eckhardt endured triple bypass surgery in 2012 and is still going strong, spreading his message of respect for the fallen.
Eckhardt took 680 flags – one for every 10 service members who had died since terrorist attacks on the U.S. September 11, 2001 – with him to a remembrance event held September 11, 2014, at Forest Park in St. Louis.
The event included a ceremony to honor Eckhardt, New York City firefighter Michael Weinberg and Marine Corporal Zach Reiff. The three men were connected by a single flag, dedicated to Weinberg after he died at Ground Zero on 9-11. The flag made it to Eckhardt’s collection of flags, and later flew along the Preston, Iowa funeral route of Reiff, who died while serving in Afghanistan.
Reiff’s parents now have the flag.
The story of the flag, its journey and the connection between the three men inspired a book called “Under One Flag.”