Brownsburg man waves flags to remember 9/11 victims

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FISHERS, Ind. – Today marks 19 years since the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.

Nearly 3,000 people died on that day. The impact is still felt throughout the world.

Locally, people are making sure people do not forget all those who lost their lives on that day.

Some will hold ceremonies; others will wave flags, like Gene Schwartzkopf of Brownsburg. He stands out on the 116th Street bridge in Fishers and waves flags for more than 12 hours. He’s done this for the past eight years, rain or shine.

Schwartzkopf says he had seen other people stand out on bridges across the area over the years and wanted to do something too.  

“I felt like I needed to make sure people would never forget,” he explained. “This is a tragedy of a lifetime. The last one I would say would be Pearl Harbor, and I asked my mother when did it kind of fade away and she said probably by 55 or so.”

Schwartzkopf believes we are around the time where people will start forgetting and he doesn’t want that to happen. He says waving flags on the bridge on the anniversary is just one way to remind people to take a moment in their busy lives to remember those who lost their lives 19 years ago.

“It’s just a remembered thing to let the first responders know that we think about them on a daily basis and the people who perished on that day,” Schwartzkopf said. “We want their families to know people still care that people lost their lives.”

Schwartzkopf recalls what he was doing 19 years ago. He said it was his day off, and he went to play golf with a friend. They were just leaving the house when the first plane hit the Twin Towers.

“[I] didn’t give it much thought,” he said. “We jumped in our cars and drove to the golf course. By the time we got to the golf course the second building hit. And so I didn’t know what to do.”

He and his friend played golf. Schwartzkopf said he felt an eerie feeling on the way home that day.

“You could see the gas stations started lining up. You could see there wasn’t any planes in the air,” Schwartzkopf said. “So part of me felt like I was trying to have a good time and put the world to the side–that kind of bothers me to this day.”

Schwartzkopf starting waving flags on the bridge in 2012 and continues to do it every year.

“I feel a sense of a little bit of pride that I’m keeping it going,” he said. “Keeping people to remember so it doesn’t just fade away and be a little blip in the history books.”

“It’s not about me, it’s not about the guys and gals on the bridge,” Schwartzkopf explains. “It’s about showing support to the families that have lost and the first responders.”

Schwartzkopf gets up on the 116th bridge around 7 a.m. every 9/11 anniversary.

There are several 9/11 events going today in our area:

Carmel Fire Department

  • Remembrance ceremony starts at 8:46 a.m.
  • Fire station 341, 2 Civic Square Carmel, IN.
  • People will have to social distance and wear masks
  • Ceremony will also be streamed on the Carmel Fire Department Facebook page

Bloomington/Monroe County

Indianapolis Fire Department

  • 9/11 Memorial Mass starts at 10 a.m.
  • Outside fire station 416, 748 Massachusetts Ave

Indianapolis Airport Authority

  • Annual Patriots Day ceremony starts at 8:40 a.m.
  • A piece of World Trade Center steel recovered from Ground Zero will be on display
  • Masks and social distancing will be enforced

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