COVID Memorial Flags




Bearing Witness


The Covid Memorial Flag Project bears witness to the unimaginable scale of the Pandemic, transforming big numbers into individual people. One life at a time is honored and remembered. The flags bear witness to those who have died of COVID-19. Each flag honors one person by name and remembers something about their life.


You are invited to experience this commemoration by walking through the grounds of the Ashland Zen Center where they will be on display from Friday, October 22 through Tuesday, October 28. Please wear a mask while on the grounds of Ashland Zen Center.


Visitors will also have the opportunity to create COVID Memorial Flags while at Ashland Zen Center on the viewing days from 12:00 to 4:00, or to take kits of 10 flags home to create and display. Between 12:00 and 4:00 a member of Ashland Zen Center will be available to answer questions and to provide assistance with COVID Flags.


The Covid Memorial Flag commemoration will culminate Wednesday, October 27 at 7:00 p.m. at the ceremony of Segaki, an annual Buddhist tradition to feed hungry ghosts and to honor loved ones who have died.


Join this public memorial and remembrance. During the ceremony and memorial the assembly will all be part of honoring and uplifting the lives of loved ones who have died.


Segaki will be held outside. Bring a flashlight; it will be a short walk from the parking lot to the illuminated canopies. Some flashlights will be available to borrow. Overflow parking on Tolman Creek Road and Nova Lane. Follow parking instructions on signs in the neighborhood. Learn more about Segaki: Segaki Ceremony


Members and friends of the Ashland Zen Center community have created over 2,000 flags for people who have died of Covid-19. Each flag was hand stitched, lettered, and offered up on a home altar before being displayed at Ashland Zen Center.


Join us; whether you walk through the garden, make one flag or many, you honor the lives, and bear witness to the deaths, of some of the hundreds of thousands lost to Covid-19.


To learn more email


Flags are made one by one

Origin of the COVID Flags


In the Fall of 2020 when the Pandemic had reached the grim milestone of 100,000 dead, Jintei Harold Little Sensei sparked the idea of a commemoration. Together with Etsudo Patty Krahl Sensei, he guided the sangha towards an expression of personal connection with the unimaginably large number who had died. The idea of COVID Memorial Flags took root.


What followed was a diligent search of newspapers, social media, and other sources. This garnered the names and memories of 2,800 people. There was no central database of names, so it required combing through news reports and local memorial efforts across the country. The New York Times ran a cover story with a thousand names, representing 1% of the loss at that time.


Beginning in December 2020, as a central part of an annual Buddhist meditation retreat, Rohatsu Sesshin, sangha members began creating flags. Each flag was stitched, lettered, and offered up on a home altar. The sangha found that making flag to honor individuals was a deeply moving experience of connection.


Now, a year later, the Pandemic has claimed 745,000 lives. The memorial means more than ever. Each individual who lived and died, and is remembered, brings us all closer together.


Making COVID Memorial Flags


If you would like to make your own flags using the same format and dimensions as those presented at the Ashland Zen Center, here are the instructions.


The flags are hung along a string, with a bell in the center and 5 flags on each side of the bell.


What you’ll need:


  • Two 30” x 7” strips of white cotton fabric (sheeting or shirt weight)
  • 72” length of sturdy string
  • 1 brass bell
  • Marking pens, black, red and blue
  • Names of the people you will commemorate
  • Needle, white thread, scissors for cutting cloth.



  • Measure and cut 10 pieces of material 6” w x 7” h using sharp scissors.
  • For each flag, create a channel to contain the string by folding material down from top and stitching it in place with a needle and thread.  Fold the material down 1 inch to create a channel for the string. Make the channel wide enough to make passage of the string easy.
  • Use the format below to create the memorial.  The names are in one inch letters, in color.  This is followed by age, place, and something this person is remembered for in ¼ to ½ ” black letters.


Download Written Instructions and Visual Guide


Directions for Covid Memorial Flags.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [1.3 MB]
How To Make Covid Memorial Flags.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [1.8 MB]



If you would need assistance or have questions, email



May all beings live in safety and be free from suffering.


Join in person if you are fully vaccinated (share proof of vaccination with the Ino) You must wear a mask in the zendo.























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