Senate District 6 Unsung Hero
Creator of West Sacramento's 9/11 Memorial
Monday will mark the 16thanniversary of the terrorist attacks on September 11. On that day, after watching the World Trade Center towers fall, John Vinson of West Sacramento wanted to something to express the pain and sadness that so many of us felt. John's memorial, at the intersection of South River Road and Jefferson Boulevard in West Sacramento, began with 25 American flags placed on that field. It has grown to more than 3000 American flags, representing all those who died and John has teams of people who volunteer each year for the effort. John and other volunteers will begin setting up the 9/11 Memorial Flag Tribute Friday, September 8th in the evening. The field will be accessible to the public 24 hours a day through 9/11.
Tell us a little about yourself:
I was born and raised in Sacramento, in the Oak Park and Midtown areas. I moved to West Sacramento about 25 years ago, and raised my children there. I now live on a ranch with my wife, Nancy. We are a blended family, with 5 adult children, and 6 grandchildren. I retired this year, 2017. This is a family endeavor, with the whole Vinson crew pitching in.
How are you making a difference in your community?
On the day of 9-11-01, like so many I was angry. I wanted to do something and needed to connect with people that day. So, when I got home I got the American flag out of my garage and I went over the O Street overpass during rush hour and I started to wave it over the freeway. I knew then, that every year, I was going to find a way to do something to commemorate the people that died on 9/11. In the 16 years since, the tribute has grown. We now erect 400 American flags and 3,000 smaller flags to symbolize all of the lives lost on 9-11. The field touches folks in different ways, all very significant.
Why is the tribute important to you?
The field provides visitors with a place to experience the impact of 9-11-01. It is a place of healing and a place to teach younger generations who may not have been born yet, what happened on 9-11. It's also a place to celebrate the strength and resilience of the American spirit and appreciate all that we are offered and allowed in this great country of ours.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Raising my children to be good and caring adults.
What have you struggled most with in your life?
It really hasn't been about one certain struggle. For me, it's not about whether or not struggles came my way. It's been more about making sure I face every challenge with a positive attitude.
What lessons are important for future generations?
Keep an open mind, listen and learn. Never get to where you think all that you know is all there is to know. Seek knowledge.
If there is one problem in our community that you wish you could fix, what would it be?
To address the homeless population and their plight.
How do you decompress?
I work in my garden.