Steamboat High School student’s 9/11 flag memorial finds a home at Yampa Valley Bank | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat High School student’s 9/11 flag memorial finds a home at Yampa Valley Bank

Kyle Case, 14, does not have memories of the the deadly terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but he wants to be certain next month that the victims are recalled.

— Kyle Case of Steamboat Springs hadn't even celebrated his first birthday on Sept. 11, 2001 when terrorists piloted two airliners into the twin towers of the World Trade Center, yet this summer, he's motivated to honor the victims.

A third hijacked aircraft crashed into the Pentagon and a fourth highjacked plane went down in a field in Pennsylvania. Although Case does not have personal memories of that awful morning, the deadly terrorist attack has made an impression on the 14-year-old who will be a freshman at Steamboat Springs High School this fall.

And on Tuesday, he got the news that Yampa Valley Bank has agreed to allow him and a group of friends to plant 2,977 small American flags on its lawn on the evening of Sept. 10. There will be one flag for every innocent life lost in the attacks

"My mom (Laura) is really into politics and last September I said that I want to do something in memory of the people who died," Case said. "A lot of people are trying to make it go away. But 3,000 people died, and it doesn't go away easily."

Laura Case said Monday she had just ordered the flags at a cost of $400 and the intent is to "sell them" — really to collect donations at a cost of $1 per flag. Net proceeds will be routed to Steamboat Springs resident and former New York City firefighter Kevin Nerney who is being treated for cancer. Nerney retired about two months before the terror attacks took place and returned immediately to New York City in September 2011 for 10 days of volunteering and attending memorial services, including those of nine of his former firefighter colleagues.

Yampa Valley Bank marketing assistant Laura Fisher confirmed Tuesday that the bank is happy to host the flags where they will be highly visible to motorists on U.S. Highway 40/Lincoln Avenue at the east entrance to town.

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One of the bank’s board members kicked off the donations with $70 Tuesday. Fisher said details have yet to be worked out, but once the flags arrive, the bank will be accepting donations for them.

"We think it's a real special project, especially coming from a 14-year-old who finds power in making people remember," she said.

Case was working shifts at two different restaurants Tuesday afternoon and evening and when interviewed between shifts, he said he does not spend his earnings impulsively.

He and his mother had hoped to place the flags on the lawn of the Routt County Courthouse in downtown Steamboat, but the three county commissioners agreed Tuesday morning, with some expressions of regret and after conferring with County Attorney Erick Knaus, that they did not want to set a precedent that would make it difficult to say "no" to less suitable displays.

"This is a commendable project. I'm totally in favor of honoring victims of 9/11," Commissioner Tim Corrigan said. "But it puts the county in a difficult situation. If we said 'yes' to this, we couldn't say no to anyone."

Corrigan explained he wouldn't want to be placed in the situation of being asked to allow a display of Confederate or Nazi flags on the courthouse lawn.

Commissioner Cari Hermacinski agreed, saying the compelling argument for not allowing the display planned by the Case family was the legal one.

"We either say say 'no' to everything or say 'yes' to everything," she said.

She pointed out that late last year the county did not allow the Jewish community to install a menorah display on the courthouse lawn.

Commissioner Doug Monger reminded Laura and Kyle Case that citizens are always welcome to gather on the courthouse lawn, but displays are something different.

"I think we all feel the project is noteworthy just concerned about the precedents we'd be setting," he said. "It's a bummer when we get in a situation where we're measuring the American flag against the Confederate flag."

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1