Canyon Crest Academy students install 9/11 memorial in Carmel Valley park

Canyon Crest Academy students installed a 9/11 memorial at Overlook Park.

A group of Canyon Crest Academy students placed 2,997 flags at Carmel Valley’s Overlook Park on Sept. 11, honoring every life lost in the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The students, Dane Caton, Sean Cook, Leonardo Altafini, James Wilke and Melanie Grasser, are seniors at CCA and members of the Young Americans for Freedom club.

Typically, the club does the installation every year on the school campus but that was not possible this year due to COVID-19. Leonardo contacted his Homeowners Association and got approval from the city to plant the flags in the park following the restrictions on face masks and gatherings.

Students from the Young Americans for Freedom

The students started in the dark at 6 a.m. and it took about two hours to carefully place each flag. Some of the students cued up their morning distance learning class as they finished their work. Community members on their morning walks and runs stopped to admire the display, taking photographs and thanking the students for what they did. Local firefighters from Carmel Valley’s Station 24 also came by to pay their respects.

“For some people, it’s really heartfelt and their eyes start to tear up,” said Leonardo, who was born in 2004 but understands the importance of never forgetting what happened that day 19 years ago. “When they see the flags, they think it’s beautiful and everybody starts feeling that emotion because that’s what it’s supposed to do.”