It all started when John Vinson hung a flag on an overpass to mourn lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001.
Since then, Vinson’s flag collection has grown to more than 400, and he has displayed them every year on the anniversary. Last year, he flew the flags for two days in a large field in West Sacramento with lights shining on them at night.
“I want to keep the memory alive. It was a horrible day. I’ll never forget it. And I won’t let the public forget it,” Vinson said.
On Monday afternoon, Vinson, an Acampo resident, drove his pick-up truck to Lodi Airport near Peltier and Highway 99 Frontage roads and displayed 20 flags. He felt compelled to mark Osama bin Laden’s death.
“The war isn’t over. We just got the big cheese,” he said.
Besides American flags, Vinson has flags from all of the military units, two honoring those on United Airlines Flight 93, one with the names of all the civilians who died on 9/11 and another of all of the emergency personnel who died.
He also has hand-painted banners that read “American Spirit, Proud and Free” and “9-11-01 Forever Changed, Forever Strong.”
He plans to continue displaying the 400 flags on the Sept. 11 anniversary until he gets too old to do it.
But he already has volunteers, including his 19-year-old son, Michael, who will probably take it over, he said.
“Yesterday the mastermind behind what happened, the U.S. dealt with him. It will bring a lot of closure. A lot of closure came to me,” Michael Vinson said.
John Vinson will keep the anniversary display in West Sacramento this year, and plans to have it up for three days. Then, he would like to move it closer to Acampo.
On Monday, cars and semi-trucks honked their horns while driving south on Highway 99, and John Vinson would stop to wave.
“Not a lot of really good things are happening in the world. For me, it is a bright moment,” he said.