In 2008, the first year of Pepperdine's memorial to the people killed in the 9/11 attacks, the flags simply appeared. One day the lawn was bare, the next it was a monument, stunning and stirring in its simplicity.
Students had quietly spent the week parsing the grass into a precise grid. On Sept. 11, 2,977 full-sized American flags moved in the ocean breeze.
It stopped traffic, of course. It made the news, local and national. And it became an annual rite. The original display was the work of the university's College Republicans, led by Ryan Sawtelle, the young man whose idea it was. When Ryan graduated, he passed along the tradition to the administration at large.
This year, in addition to the now-annual motorcyclists' Ride to the Flags, the 10th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks will be marked by a day of events, beginning at 10 a.m. with a reading of the names of those killed, and ending with an hour-long memorial service at 4 p.m.
The flags fly all week long. Traffic can be tough but if you plan and you're patient, it's stunning, truly moving, and well worth the visit.