Permanent Lee Hwy. memorial under construction, flags to remain - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Permanent Lee Hwy. memorial under construction, flags to remain for a couple weeks

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Surrounded by the thousands of tiny flags at the memorial outside the Armed Forces Recruitment Center, the American flag still flies at half staff on Lee Highway.

The flag pole and its concrete base mark the new and permanent addition to the memorial.

It seems like the "new normal" out there, but surrounding businesses are still getting back into a routine.

Toscano Italian Grill just reopened its doors to the public this week.

"The first week it was very tough and hard, emotionally, business-wise, and thinking about life in general," said restaurant owner Terry Ismaiel.

Outside the doors of the restaurant, visitors are still trying to make sense of what happened. Some of them hold new perspectives.

"All of a sudden now, you're gonna have to start looking over your shoulder and you just wonder who all is safe," said Joan Donahue of Memphis.

"You get to the point where, do I go to the movies? Do I go to the mall?" asked Chattanooga resident, Paul Cranfield.  "I won't say it makes you stronger, but it makes you more dedicated and more believing in the American way."

For others, the past two weeks only reinforces their patriotism.

"It hasn't changed me about how much I love my country and love our vets," said Chattanooga veteran Roger Welch.

But the love for Chattanooga is now apparent. Whether it's someone placing a flag in the ground or seeing customers paying for a police officer's meal -- the small acts of kindness add up to something much bigger.

"Nobody told them to do that. This is just the people. The people taking care of their city," Ismaiel said.

The shopping center's property owner has ordered a brass plaque to be placed underneath the flagpole to help serve as a reminder of what happened there on July 16. The current makeshift flag memorial at Lee Highway will remain on display for about two more weeks.

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