#KeeleyCares: Flags of Valor
This year, our very own Rob Lochner, VP of Development at Keeley Properties, brought a new charity to our attention: Flags of Valor. Flags of Valor is part of America’s Heartland Remembers, founded in 2011 to honor and remember the heroes and victims of 9/11 on every five-year anniversary. This was our first year working with Flags of Valor and our team of volunteers was incredibly moved throughout the entire process. We can’t wait to continue to support their efforts in the future.
Rob Lochner got involved with Flags of Valor through the Patriot Training Foundation (PTF), a nonprofit that trains young men and women who are pursuing military careers and attending military service academies and other ROTC programs. Both of Rob’s sons got involved with PTF in 2015, so he and his wife volunteered for PTF’s Flags of Valor team in 2016, marking the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. When the plans were released for the 20th anniversary this year, Rob knew he wanted to get a Keeley team together. Since Rob joined the Keeley family and got involved with #KeeleyCares, he has seen just how deeply Keeley’ns care about their communities. He immediately thought that if he brought Flags of Valor to Keeley, there would surely be military families that would want to help. That proved to be the case and he is incredibly proud of the way Keeley’ns stepped up to serve Flags of Valor’s mission.
“It is always important to remember and honor our fallen. Gold Star families grieve for their lost family members in much the same way as we do for our own loved ones. The difference is that their family member chose to put themselves in harm’s way when others would not or could not for our country. In my mind, it is truly one of the most selfless actions one can do. I think Flags of Valor gave the families some indication that their fallen hero is appreciated and that their sacrifice meant something to us as a country.”
This year, team members from across Keeley Companies and ADB came together to assist the Flags of Valor team in getting the display ready. Our team spent time assembling 300 flags that would have an informational dog tag and photo of the hero, installing those flags on Art Hill, and then removing them at the end of the exhibition and packaging them up so they could be distributed to the family of the hero represented on that flag. In total, there were 7,000+ flags on Art Hill honoring each service member who has died in the War on Terror since 9/11, 413 flags honoring the first responders who gave the ultimate sacrifice, and six oversized visual informational boards representing the 2,564 victims of the 9/11 attacks. This was an emotional, eye-opening event that even personally touched the lives of some of our team members.
Angie Bach signed up to help assemble the flags because her boyfriend is a Marine. A portion of the proceeds from Flags of Valor goes towards the Semper Fi foundation which pay for her boyfriend’s unit to collectively get together every five years. His unit lost one of their own 15 years ago and every five years, the unit gets together with his family to remember him and celebrate his life. During the assembly, the team heard from a woman who lost her best friend in a similar manner. Angie and the team knew just how serious this process was as each flag represented a life lost. During the week of September 11, her boyfriend started receiving photos from one of his battle buddies passing through St. Louis. Much to her surprise, they were photos of the flags that the Keeley and ADB teams put together. Her boyfriend was overcome with emotion, stating, “Isn’t this cool? Look at all these flags, there’s even one for Ryan.” This was a simple but important reminder at just how important the work of Flags of Valor is and how we need to educate this new generation that was not here for the life-changing 9/11 attacks and the aftermath that followed.
“If you understand and believe that freedom isn’t free and want to honor those Americans that helped preserve our freedom and kept us from being attacked on US soil, then please get involved with Flags of Valor or one of the nonprofit groups supported by Flags of Valor that align with its mission.”
Click here to learn more about the incredible work of Flags of Valor.