Ruppert Landscape helps commemorate pandemic toll

By edited by Kyle Brown

A flag for each American life lost to COVID-19 was planted on over 20 acres of exhibition space.

From September 14 through 16, more than 150 employees from Laytonsville, Maryland-based Ruppert Landscape‘s Maryland, DC and Virginia branches came together to assist Maryland artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg bring to fruition “In America: Remember,” a public art installation commemorating all Americans who have died due to COVID-19. More than 660,000 white flags were installed on 20 acres of the National Mall at the base of the Washington Monument, creating an opportunity for visitors to reflect upon the enormous toll of the pandemic.

Conceptualized and executed by Firstenberg, she describes the project as a memorial that’s also a physical manifestation of empathy. Ruppert assisted with bringing her vision to life using a combination of aerial mapping and design software to create a grid that encompasses the National Mall. To ensure symmetry during installation, teams used a custom-made grid tool to install the 4-inch by 5-inch white flags.

There are 143 sections, the majority of which are 60 feet by 60 feet, that each contain 5,329 flags. Ruppert had more than 350 team members from 10 local branches contributing to the installation over the three-day period. The exhibition is occurring concurrently in the digital sphere, allowing families across the nation to submit messages to personalize flags for their loved ones online.

“When people say, ‘We couldn’t have done it without you,’ they are usually speaking figuratively,” says Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg. “Without Ruppert Landscape, I literally could not have created ‘In America: Remember.’ From the start, Craig (Ruppert) and his team have been all in — creating two unique systems for planting this massive array, helping with logistics and organization, and working tirelessly to create a layout that meets the needs of the National Park Service, while also allowing for the ever-expanding number of flags. Ruppert Landscape models corporate goodness, setting the bar high for other companies.”

This is the second installation of “In America,” both of which Ruppert assisted with. The first occurred in the fall of 2020 on a four-acre site at RFK Stadium, which was covered in 267,080 white flags, before the exhibition ran out of space due to the mounting toll.

“We are always glad to be involved with projects that bring visibility and awareness to important issues or underserved populations,” says CEO Craig Ruppert. “When Suzanne brought this to us, we knew it was a project that would enable us to put our skills and teamwork to good use and we were glad to get involved.”