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What Happened to the Ground Zero Flag?

What Happened to the Ground Zero Flag?


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HOMELESS ‘ANGEL’ A BLESSING AT GROUND ZERO

Linda Bishop patrols the perimeter of ground zero daily, holding an American flag, greeting its workers and guiding awe-struck New Yorkers and tourists through the mayhem with intelligent precision.

She calls herself the head of “Hell’s Chamber of Commerce.”

Bishop, 45, of New Hampshire, doesn’t get paid to help visitors or treat the dirt-covered, overworked, stressed-out, ground-zero workers like conquering heroes just by acknowledging them.

Some don’t even know that, behind the broad smile and piercing blue eyes, she is a homeless woman with mental problems.

“Angels come to earth in disguises – some come as paupers,” said Bill, a 42-year-old construction worker who has watched Bishop for the past month.

“She’s crazy, don’t get me wrong. But I never prejudge anyone. When I look at her, I can tell she has a good soul. She greets everybody with a smile, waving her flag. A lot of people who come here are under a lot of stress, and she, somehow, changes their demeanor.”

In less than a minute, she can provide a slew of ground-zero details. Ask Thomas Scarlato, 38, an emotional victim of Sept. 11, so charmed by Bishop’s magic he walked away claiming, “God rested on her shoulder.”

“That’s a Christmas tree decorated with angels cut out by schoolchildren,” Bishop told Scarlato at a machine-gun pace. “That’s the tent put up by the Salvation Army . . . That’s where debris is separated . . .”

Scarlato, who visits the site once every three weeks and cries, said he’s never met anyone like Bishop in past visits.

Bishop arrived at ground zero Nov. 1 after a friend gave her $50 for a bus ticket. She spent most her life in New Hampshire, where she became mentally ill and had to be committed in 1999 and April 2001.

Bishop says she has a bachelor’s degree in history and a 15-year-old daughter who lives with her former husband. Arriving broke, she lived on the streets before settling down in a homeless shelter in The Bronx.

“I plan to stay here as long as I can,” said Bishop. “I talk to people. I try to help people understand the enormity of what happened because I’ve been here long enough to understand.”


‘The Flag’: What happened to Ground Zero’s most treasured artifact?

To our most sacred and uplifting media moments we must often add a later, follow-up period of difficult questions and even debunking, which brings me to this:

Does it matter to you that the American flag raised by three weary firefighters at Ground Zero on the afternoon of Sept. 11, 2001, has gone missing? Does it matter that the flag that toured the world at benefit concerts and aboard Navy ships en route to war &mdash bringing people to tears wherever it went as they touched it and saluted it with holy reverence &mdash was, in fact, not the same flag that was in the unforgettable news photo of that moment, even though everyone was told that it was?

In Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein’s stirring and even baffling CNN documentary “The Flag” (airing Wednesday night), we are taken along on a hunt to solve a mystery (What happened to that flag? Who has it?) but also to look within ourselves at the mysterious processes of catharsis and symbolism. (In other words, why did we need that flag to do what it did to us emotionally?)

“The Flag” is precisely the sort of film we should be making and watching at this particular distance from the attacks. Enough years have gone by that we can &mdash tenderly, perhaps still cautiously &mdash reexamine our emotions and responses without setting off a screaming match about patriotism. Tucker and Epperlein try to retrace the iconic appearance and then disappearance of what is arguably one of the 9/11 era’s most treasured artifacts.

What is known: On the morning of the World Trade Center attacks, the flag in the picture was hanging on the pole of a yacht moored at a small marina just west of the Lower Manhattan site. The yacht belongs to Shirley Dreifus and Spiros Kopelakis. At some point in the afternoon, a group of New York firefighters removed the flag and carried it to the still-smoking rubble, where they raised it. This was captured by several photojournalists on the scene, and none caught it more perfectly than Thomas Franklin, who was shooting for the Record newspaper of Bergen County, N.J. Within 24 hours, his picture was displayed around the world. The image became posters, lapel pins, T-shirts, sculptures, quilts.

Although Franklin declined to be interviewed, the filmmakers talk to just about anyone they can find who was there. The moment the flag was raised is compared to the famous photograph of World War II Marines raising the flag at Iwo Jima (itself a recreation of a moment). Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani says the picture was nothing short of salvation for a wounded city and nation, a symbol of American perseverance.

Dreifus and Kopelakis recount their misadventures in bureaucracy when, after an appropriate interval, they asked for their flag back so they could donate it to the Smithsonian. A flag was indeed returned to them, having been signed by politicians, celebrities, soldiers and firefighters &mdash but it was twice the size of the flag from their boat and noticeably larger than the flag in the photograph.

The sleuthing that follows in “The Flag” strikes the right balance between puzzlement and outrage. Clue by clue &mdash after they’ve examined video footage from the Ground Zero aftermath &mdash the filmmakers discover that someone had taken the flag away as early as that first night. Giuliani’s staff procured what they believed to be the Ground Zero flag for a ceremony a week later at Yankee Stadium, and it then went on a highly publicized world tour. Did officials know then that it wasn’t really the flag?

This is where “The Flag” does its best and most subtle work: If it wasn’t really the flag, was the substitute just as meaningful? At our patriotic core, the reflexive answer is yes. But if truth is also a founding principle, then there’s a gnawing dissatisfaction with this implicit ruse. And, given the war we still fight in response to Sept. 11, there’s an uncomfortable metaphor in the central narrative of “The Flag,” suggesting that nothing was what it seemed.


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(CNN) — For the warrior or the would-be rescuer — the heroes — there is no time to appreciate what one click of a camera shutter means to a suffering nation.

Six Marines still had an enemy to fight after they raised the American flag on Iwo Jima’s Mount Suribachi. Three would die in that 1945 battle.

On Sept. 11, 2001, three New York City firefighters joined those who rushed to the World Trade Center to search for survivors who would never be found. Late that afternoon, they raised a small flag removed from a nearby boat. A monochromatic wall of gray debris soared in the background.

“There’s no self-pity in that picture,” said Capt. Patrick Burns, U.S. Navy liaison to New York, at the time.

The photographs of the flag-raisings at Iwo Jima and ground zero quickly became icons, moments in time that galvanized Americans who found new solidarity and unity.

And while the whereabouts of the Iwo Jima flag are known (it’s at the National Museum of the Marine Corps), the fate of the World Trade Center site 3-foot-by-5-foot flag became a mystery.

CNN Films’ “The Flag,” which premieres Wednesday night on CNN, explores what may have happened to it.

It’s a story replete with mystery.

Within hours of its raising, the flag disappeared from the World Trade Center site. The makers of the film documented this by looking at the background of photos taken soon after.

The flag that subsequently flew over Yankee Stadium as a patriotic rebuke to terrorism, and fluttered over the USS Roosevelt as the aircraft carrier sent missions over Afghanistan, was represented as the same flag that was raised.

The original flag was “either misplaced, stolen or secreted away by unknown forces in the chaos of ground zero,” the film’s directors said in a statement.

Raised flag became a national symbol

Dishonesty was not behind the story of the flag’s travels, said Michael Tucker, who produced, wrote and directed “The Flag” with his wife, Petra Epperlein. There were more important things to do than keep up with a single flag, which was quickly joined by several others.

“(For) people who were down there, the most important thing for them was recovering people, even when they knew there were no survivors,” Tucker said.

When an official was sent to pick up the flag a week or so later, he apparently received a larger flag, and it was flown at subsequent events.

“They had no reason to believe it wasn’t the flag,” Tucker said.

The story of the missing flag includes a larger, more philosophical question: Is it the actual flag that is most important — or the ideals it represents?

For its part, the WTC flag photo — taken by Tom Franklin of the Record newspaper in Bergen, New Jersey — quickly became a symbol.

It was plastered on the cover of Newsweek, with the words, “God Bless America,” and the image could be seen on everything from coffee cups to tattoos.

“Most people will see it happen once or twice in their lifetime — where the whole nation stands together,” said Tucker.

“It was the worst of times and probably the best of America,” Tucker told CNN on Tuesday.

The makers of “The Flag” spoke with several photographers about going to ground zero and the heartbreaking scenes that awaited. The film is partly forensic, with an expert comparing photos of the original flag and others that appear to be larger.

Among those interviewed were the couple who owned the yacht from which the flag was taken by a firefighter to hang at the WTC site.

They wanted to donate the flag to the Smithsonian Institution and asked about a year after the attacks to borrow the signed flag briefly for a ceremony.

“When we got the flag, we were quite stunned that it was the wrong flag,” said Shirley Dreifus. “… This wraps around the two of us, and we’re not the thinnest people on Earth … So we knew right away it was the wrong flag.”

Does it matter whether it was the real flag?

Woven throughout the film, which is based on a book by David Friend, are discussions about the powerful nature of a flag.

“We’re not a country based on religion or ethnicity, or even cultural heritage” Burns told the filmmakers. “We’re a country based on ideas and a philosophy. And that’s what the flag is.”

Jodi Goglio, who works for Eder Flag, said a flag “makes you feel that we are bigger than just ourselves.”

A young crew member of the USS Roosevelt wiped away tears as she described having the supposed WTC flag on board.

“It just makes what you’re doing so much more, wow, meaningful,” she said.

When asked whether it mattered whether the flag was recovered, a visitor to the 9/11 memorial said, “It would matter. It would matter to me.” Another said, “I think it would to the families who lost their loved ones.” Among those who died were 343 firefighters.

Thomas Koehler, a retired detective with the New York Police Department, said he would rather not know what became of the WTC flag.

“If you had the actual flag … the cynic in me (would say), people want it. You put a price on it. … then it becomes something else.”

Tucker got a firsthand taste of a flag’s power while making “Gunner Palace” with Epperlein.

Released in 2004, the documentary tells the story of a group of American soldiers who fought in Baghdad.

The Iraqi insurgency was growing, and Tucker, an American, wanted to leave in spring 2004 for his home, then in Germany.

He stayed at a U.S. facility at the airport and awoke to find a small folded American flag under his pillow, a customary gift made by some group.

“I was so overwhelmed with emotion. That flag means home,” Tucker said. “While that experience is not uniquely American, when you are thousands of miles from home, under stress, and you see the colors — it reminds you of your people.”


9/11 flag from Ground Zero believed to be lost found in Washington state

An American flag that turned up in Washington state two years ago is believed to be the flag that was raised by firefighters above the site of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York.

The Everett Police Department, with help from forensic experts, made the assessment after the flag turned up in 2014. The flag will be donated to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

Still, the mystery about how the flag turned up nearly 3,000 miles away from New York. The flag disappeared from Ground Zero during the site cleanup.

The police investigation began in November 2014 when a man, who identified himself as “Brian,” dropped off a flag in a plastic bag that he said was given to him by a widow of a 9/11 victim at an Everett fire station. According to Q13 Fox, the man said for some reason he thought the flag was from Ground Zero.

“This flag was turned in with a story. Reported to be the iconic flag raised at Ground Zero September 2001,” Everett Deputy Police Chief Mark St. Clair told Q13 Fox.

The detectives' investigation included DNA analysis, photographic comparisons and eyewitness identification. Washington State Patrol Crime Lab scientist Bill Schneck was tasked with figuring out whether the flag was from Ground Zero.

“Oh my gosh! I figured it was incredibly patriotic for one thing. Just to know I’m looking at something this important,” Schneck said.

He said that he began to examine the particles from the flag and compared with the dust particles captured from Ground Zero after the attack and during the cleanup. He also analyzed the original photograph.

“If you look at the original photograph from 9/11 you see a certain black electric tape holding two lines together and they had the same general profile so I knew then, well, this could be it,” he added.

Schneck said he analyzed his findings over and over again and is now certain that the flag was from Ground Zero.

He said he was invited to the ceremonies that are set to take place Sunday to remember the 15th anniversary of the terror attacks, but he declined saying that he’s no hero and that Americans should all remember the victims, first responders and the families involved in the attacks.

Everett police have asked the public to help find the man who dropped off the flag.


The Disappearance and Return of the Original Ground Zero Flag

It showed up on the other side of the country, and Thursday it goes on view at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.

After the twin towers fell, three firefighters hoisted a 3-foot-by-5-foot flag up a lanyard above ground zero and a photographer captured the moment. The Associated Press picked up the photo, as did Newsweek, and countless other media outlets. It became a stamp and a symbol.

Twelve days later, Rudy Giuliani, at the time the New York City mayor, signed the flag at Yankee Stadium. It was also signed by his successor, Michael Bloomberg, and by New York Governor George E. Pataki. It would travel to naval ships in the Middle East, and in 2002 it returned to City Hall. Except the flag that had been signed and did all the traveling was not the flag pictured in the photo, the one raised in the hours after the September 11 attacks. For starters, this flag was 5 feet by 8 feet. So what happened to the original flag?

That remains, in part, a mystery. But on Thursday, the original flag, verified by forensic scientists, goes on permanent display at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York.

How the flag became lost and how it reappeared is a somewhat unsatisfying story, because there are so many unanswered questions. What’s known is it showed up at a fire station in Everett, Washington, in 2014, four days after the History Channel featured an episode on its disappearance.

The flag had originally belonged to a New York couple who’d hung it from the back of their yacht. One of the firefighters in the photo had taken it from the vessel and hoisted the flag above the rubble of the towers. In 2014 the History Channel’s Brad Meltzer asked for help solving the mystery in an article he wrote for The Huffington Post. In it, he said, they’d found a clue, which led to another dead end. Meltzer wrote:

On the night of 9/11, a New York police officer was shooting surveillance footage at Ground Zero. In this footage, at 10:30 p.m., the famous flagpole from the photo is bare. The flag is already gone, meaning that it had already been taken down within five hours of the iconic photo.

To this day, New York City has no leads, nor does the FDNY. Some experts suggest the real flag was misplaced at Ground Zero in the days after 9/11. Others suggest it was stolen. Others guess it may have been used to cover the body of a slain first responder and therefore could be stored in a morgue.

A week later, Meltzer’s episode on the mysterious disappearance of the ground zero flag ran on the History Channel’s spinoff, H2. Apparently, someone in Everett, Washington, was watching, because four days later a flag was dropped off at a fire station by a man named Brian.

“At least that’s what the firefighters recall him using,” Mark St. Clair, the deputy chief of operations, told The New York Times. The man said he was a former Marine, the Times reported, and that he’d been given the flag by someone at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who had been given the flag by a widow of a September 11 victim. That story has been called questionable.

Regardless of how the man came to own the flag, firefighters told the local police, and investigators looked into the claim that this flag, which was 3 feet by 5 feet, was the original featured in the iconic photograph.

The flag was turned over to a Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory forensic materials scientist who, as the Times reported, analyzed dust samples on the flag and compared them with those taken after the towers fell. They matched.

There still remain questions, like who took it from the pole in the five hours after the September 11 attacks? And how did it end up on the other side of the country?


Returning the Ground Zero flag: How detectives solved the mystery of the missing Stars and Stripes

The American flag, raised by New York City firefighters at Ground Zero shortly after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, was discovered years later in Wash.

The famous flag raised at Ground Zero on September 12, 2001, originally flew from the yacht, Star of America, moored in a marina near the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers.

New York City firefighter Dan McWilliams cut the flag from the yacht and he and fellow firefighters, George Johnson and Billy Eisengrein, raised it onto a pole emerging from the rubble.

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Thomas Franklin, who worked as a photographer for New Jersey newspaper, The Bergen Record, captured the iconic photograph of the three New York City firefighters raising the flag at Ground Zero. The photograph of the flag being raised over Ground Zero went on to embody American patriotism and resolve in the face of terrorism.

By the next day, the flag turned up missing with very few clues as to its whereabouts.

The investigation begins

In the fall of 2014, a person simply identified as “Brian” dropped off a 3’x5’ American flag at an Everett, Washington, fire station. The flag and a halyard, neatly stored in a shopping bag, were carefully handed over to a firefighter.

Brian told firefighters he believed the flag was the same one famously raised by firefighters at Ground Zero shortly after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. In the excitement of taking custody of something potentially significant, Brian slipped away before anyone could identify him.

The fire department released the flag to the Everett Police Department and detectives Massingale and Atwood were assigned to investigate. They were charged with safeguarding the flag, determining if it was authentic and returning it to the rightful owner.

The first step was to identify and interview “Brian.”

Investigators canvassed the area around the fire station looking for surveillance video. Although there were several surveillance cameras near and around the firehouse, none captured footage of Brian coming or going from the area.

Several press releases and a sketch were eventually issued asking anyone with information about Brian to come forward. Two years would pass before Brian would finally be located and interviewed.

As the investigation continued, detectives carefully examined the flag and halyard. Several light stains were plainly visible in several places on the flag. The halyard appeared to have been hastily made with rope and electrical tape. Over several days, hundreds of photographs of the flag and halyard were captured. These photographs would later be used in a photographic comparison.

A debris match

Meanwhile, detectives enlisted the help of Washington State Patrol Forensic Scientist William Schneck to examine particulate debris on the flag and compare it with known debris samples collected at the World Trade Center shortly after the terrorist attacks. Schneck later concluded that debris and particulate matter he analyzed on the flag were “consistent in content and correct percentages” to debris and particulate matter collected at Ground Zero.

This was a huge break in the investigation. The soil and debris comparison confirmed that the flag had very likely been at Ground Zero.

Photographic comparison

I was asked to compare the flag and halyard in our custody with the famous photograph taken by Thomas Franklin. A photographic comparison looks for class (general) and individualizing (unique) characteristics between two similar-looking people or objects. In this case, I would be comparing the flag and halyard in our custody to the iconic photograph taken at Ground Zero.

We reached out to the custodian of the photograph and learned that Thomas Franklin captured 24 photographs the afternoon the flag was raised. Many of these photographs have never been made available to the public. The custodian provided copies of all of the photographs to assist us in our investigation.

Having access to all 24 photographs taken by Thomas Franklin allowed us to examine characteristics of the flag and halyard from several different angles as it was being hoisted at Ground Zero.

The halyard that accompanied the flag is very unique. It consists of several sections of 5-8 mm rope wrapped with black electrical tape along with two swivel snap hooks (attached to two ends of the rope). It appeared that the halyard had been hurriedly made and is obviously one-of-a-kind.

After examining the flag and halyard and comparing them to the photographs taken by Thomas Franklin, I found at least six class (general) and six individualizing (unique) characteristics in common between the flag and halyard in our custody and the one seen in photographs and video.

In video captured of the flag-raising sequence, one of the firefighters can be seen wrapping something 16-18 times around the halyard shortly after it was attached to the flag. We believe this is the electrical tape used to hold the halyard together as the upper section of the halyard is wrapped 16 times with electrical tape.

Brian tells his story

Near the end of our investigation, Brian learned that detectives were looking for him and came forward. During several interviews Brian explained he is a military memorabilia collector. Brian told us in November 2006 he met with a friend who had acquired several boxes containing military memorabilia.

Knowing that Brian is a veteran and flag collector, his friend showed him three American flags that came stored in the boxes. Brian described two of the flags as being large and the third as much smaller and wound tightly in a ball with rope. Brian’s friend gave him all three flags. After taking the flags home, Brian neatly folded and stored them away.

Although he didn’t know it at the time, Brian later realized that the third flag, wrapped tightly by the halyard, was the Ground Zero flag.

In the fall of 2014 Brian learned that the Ground Zero flag was missing while watching a documentary about September 11 on television. The documentary showed pictures of the flag and halyard. After seeing black tape on the halyard, Brian pulled the flag and halyard out and compared them to the images on TV. At that point Brian realized he may be in possession of the iconic Ground Zero flag. A short time later, Brian drove to a nearby fire station and turned the flag and halyard over to firefighters.

Brian had the Ground Zero flag and halyard in his possession since November 2006. Throughout several interviews, Brian was extremely cooperative and instrumental in helping us document the flag’s history after it turned up missing.

After two years of investigation including a soil sample analysis, photographic and video comparisons, peer review, and interviews with witnesses, we concluded that the flag and halyard in our custody were very likely at Ground Zero.

Throughout the investigation, detectives remained in contact with Shirley Dreifus, the sole remaining owner of the Star of America yacht. Her husband had since passed away. After the flag and halyard were authenticated, Shirley Dreifus and Chubb Insurance (insurers of the flag) graciously agreed to release both to the 9/11 Memorial Museum to be cared for and placed on permanent display to the public.

Former NYPD cop returns the flag to NYC

Now retired Everett police officer Eddie Golden worked for the New York Police Department during the terrorist attacks. He assisted with rescue operations within the perimeter of Ground Zero for nine months. Several years after his involvement with September 11, 2001, Officer Golden retired from the NYPD and came to work for the Everett Police Department.

Having such a close connection to the events surrounding Ground Zero, Officer Golden was invited to be present as the flag and halyard were carefully prepared and packaged to be transported to the 9/11 Memorial Museum. Wearing latex gloves, Officer Golden held the flag close to his face and took a deep breath. With tears in his eyes, he turned to Detective Massingale and remarked, “It smells just like I remember it.”

The Everett Police Department accomplished the three main goals of the investigation, which were safeguarding the flag, determining if it was authentic and returning it to the rightful owner. The flag and halyard were safely returned home to New York City and are now on display at the 9/11 Memorial Museum.

About the author

Steve Paxton has been a police officer for 23 years. He is currently a detective assigned to the Forensic Investigations Unit at the Everett (Wash.) Police Department. His primary responsibilities include recovering and analyzing surveillance video, examining mobile devices, critical incident photography and managing the department’s digital forensics lab. Steve can be reached on LinkedIn.


What Happened to the Ground Zero Flag? - HISTORY

HISTORY(R) RECOVERS ICONIC GROUND ZERO FLAG THAT DISAPPEARED AFTER 9/11

FLAG FOUND IN EVERETT, WASHINGTON

FLAG RAISED BY FIREFIGHTERS AFTER THE ATTACK ON THE WORLD TRADE CENTER IS BEING DONATED TO THE NATIONAL SEPTEMBER 11 MEMORIAL & MUSEUM AS PART OF THE HISTORY SAVES HISTORY INITIATIVE

THE HISTORY(R) SPECIAL "AMERICA'S 9/11 FLAG: RISE FROM THE ASHES" CHRONICLING THE STORY OF THE FLAG'S DISCOVERY AND RETURN TO NEW YORK PREMIERES SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 11 AT 10:30PM ET/PT

September 7, 2016 - New York - The iconic American flag that was raised by three New York City firefighters at Ground Zero on September 11, 2001, and later disappeared, has been recovered in Everett, WA. The announcement was made jointly by Jana Bennett, President & General Manager of HISTORY, and Joe Daniels, President of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

With the participation of the flag's original owner Shirley Dreifus, in honor of her late husband Spiros E. Kopelakis, and in cooperation with Chubb, the global insurance company, the flag will be donated to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York as part of the new HISTORY Saves History initiative. The flag will be exhibited at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum starting September 8th.

September 11, 2016 marks the 15th anniversary of the devastating terrorist attacks on The World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon, and the crash of United Airlines Flight 93 in Shanksville, PA.

HISTORY(R) chronicles the story of the flag's recovery and journey back to New York in the special "America's 9/11 Flag: Rise from the Ashes," featuring best-selling author Brad Meltzer and premiering on Sunday, September 11 at 10:30pm ET/PT. The recovery of the flag is the inaugural project under the new HISTORY Saves History initiative. The effort reflects the network's commitment to identifying and preserving history that is at risk of being lost or forgotten, and making these stories accessible to audiences.

"We are honored that HISTORY has been able to play a role in the recovery and return of the Ground Zero Flag, an important national symbol," said Bennett. "The story of how the flag was found, authenticated and returned to New York is one of the great modern day mysteries solved. Programs like 'America's 9/11 Flag: Rise from the Ashes' are an example of HISTORY's commitment to commemorating the events that unfolded on and after 9/11, as well as the stories of individuals who witnessed or played a role in the events of that day."

"In the hours it seemed our country had lost all hope, this American flag raising above the rubble helped reaffirm that the nation would endure, would recover and rebuild, and that we would always remember and honor those who lost their lives and those who risked their own to save others," 9/11 Memorial President Joe Daniels said. "We had always hoped this special flag would be experienced by the millions of visitors traveling each year to the museum. We are thankful to Shirley Dreifus, the city of Everett, HISTORY, A+E Networks, and Chubb Insurance for this donation."

Since the opening, the Museum has displayed a large photograph of the three firefighters lifting the flag as part of its historical exhibition.

The raising of the Ground Zero Flag by three New York City firefighters on September 11th amidst the rubble of the World Trade Center was captured in a photograph by Thomas E. Franklin of The Record (Bergen County, NJ) and circulated widely. The image captured the fortitude of first responders and became a symbol of hope and rebuilding in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks.

The flag had been taken from the yacht Star of America, owned by Shirley Dreifus and Spiros E. Kopelakis, which was docked at the World Financial Center. Later, a different flag that was believed to have been the original flag, was displayed in Yankee Stadium and assigned to the USS Theodore Roosevelt on a mission to Afghanistan after 9/11. However, what most people did not realize was that the original flag had actually been lost.

The story of the flag was chronicled in an October 2014 episode of the HISTORY series "Brad Meltzer's Lost History," produced by the production company Left/Right. Shortly after the broadcast, an anonymous individual delivered a flag that he claimed to be the original Ground Zero Flag to a fire station in Everett, WA. The City of Everett contacted HISTORY and Left/Right, and Everett Police detectives began a forensic investigation. Based on the City's findings and additional analysis by their own experts, HISTORY and Left/Right were able to definitively conclude that this is in fact the Ground Zero Flag. Chubb, which had insured Ms. Dreifus's yacht and paid a claim on the lost flag, joined her in donating to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum their respective title to and interest in the recovered flag.

"Our officers and detectives do incredible work on a daily basis, whether they're handling a routine case or an investigation with significant historical implications," said Mayor Ray Stephanson. "We're honored to have played a role in this mystery, and we're pleased that the flag will be preserved for all those impacted by the tragic events of September 11, 2001."

Featuring best-selling author and HISTORY host Brad Meltzer, the special "America's 9/11 Flag: Rise from the Ashes" documents the discovery of the Ground Zero Flag, uncovering the mystery of its disappearance, and documenting the tests that prove its authenticity. The documentary covers the investigation by the Everett Police Department, whose dedication helped to bring the flag back to the public. "America's 9/11 Flag: Rise from the Ashes" was produced by Left/Right, whose work was critical in finding the flag. Ken Druckerman, Banks Tarver, and Brad Meltzer serve as Executive Producers for Left/Right. Co-Executive Producers for Left/Right are Michael Mezaros and Tim McConville. Michael Stiller is Executive Producer for HISTORY.


CNN’s ‘The Flag’: What happened to Ground Zero’s most treasured artifact?


Three New York firefighters raise an American flag amid the rubble of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. (Thomas E. Franklin/Bergen County Record)

To our most sacred and uplifting media moments we must often add a later, follow-up period of difficult questions and even debunking, which brings me to this:

Does it matter to you that the American flag raised by three weary firefighters at Ground Zero on the afternoon of Sept. 11, 2001, has gone missing? Does it matter that the flag that toured the world at benefit concerts and aboard Navy ships en route to war — bringing people to tears wherever it went as they touched it and saluted it with holy reverence — was, in fact, not the same flag that was in the unforgettable news photo of that moment, even though everyone was told that it was?

In Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein’s stirring and even baffling CNN documentary “The Flag” (airing Wednesday night), we are taken along on a hunt to solve a mystery (What happened to that flag? Who has it?) but also to look within ourselves at the mysterious processes of catharsis and symbolism. (In other words, why did we need that flag to do what it did to us emotionally?)

“The Flag” is precisely the sort of film we should be making and watching at this particular distance from the attacks. Enough years have gone by that we can — tenderly, perhaps still cautiously — reexamine our emotions and responses without setting off a screaming match about patriotism. Tucker and Epperlein try to retrace the iconic appearance and then disappearance of what is arguably one of the 9/11 era’s most treasured artifacts.

What is known: On the morning of the World Trade Center attack, the flag in the picture was hanging on the pole of a yacht moored at a small marina just west of the Lower Manhattan site. The yacht belongs to Shirley Dreifus and Spiros Kopelakis. At some point in the afternoon, a group of New York firefighters removed the flag and carried it to the still-smoking rubble, where they raised it. This was captured by several photojournalists on the scene, and none caught it more perfectly than Thomas Franklin, who was shooting for the Record newspaper of Bergen County, N.J. Within 24 hours, his picture was displayed around the world. The image became posters, lapel pins, T-shirts, sculptures, quilts.

Although Franklin declined to be interviewed, the filmmakers talked to just about anyone they could find who was there. The moment the flag was raised is compared to the famous photograph of World War II Marines raising the flag at Iwo Jima (itself a re-creation of a moment). Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani says the picture was nothing short of salvation for a wounded city and nation, a symbol of American perseverance.

Dreifus and Kopelakis recount their misadventures in bureaucracy when, after an appropriate interval, they asked for their flag back so they could donate it to the Smithsonian. A flag was indeed returned to them, having been signed by politicians, celebrities, troops and firefighters — but it was twice the size of the flag from their boat and noticeably larger than the flag in the photograph.

The sleuthing that follows in “The Flag” (which is based on a book by David Friend) strikes the right balance between puzzlement and outrage. Clue by clue — after they’ve examined video footage from the Ground Zero aftermath — the filmmakers discover that someone had taken the flag away as early as that first night. Giuliani staffers procured what they believed to be the Ground Zero flag several days later for a ceremony at Yankee Stadium, and it then went on a highly publicized world tour. Did officials know then that it wasn’t really the flag?

This is where “The Flag” does its best and most subtle work: If it wasn’t really the flag, was the substitute just as meaningful? At our patriotic core, the reflexive answer is yes. But if truth is also a founding principle, then there’s a gnawing dissatisfaction with this implicit ruse. And, given the war we still fight in response to Sept. 11, there’s an uncomfortable metaphor in the central narrative of “The Flag,” suggesting that nothing was what it seemed.


Lost 9/11 flag recovered with help of History Channel host who lives in Fort Lauderdale

The American flag raised by firefighters at ground zero on the day of the 9/11 attacks that was featured in an iconic photograph has returned home to the site of the World Trade Center after being missing for 15 years.

Its journey back home, where it was unveiled Thursday at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, began in part thanks to Broward County resident Brad Meltzer, the host of History Channel's "Brad Meltzer's Lost History" show.

Although the flag in that historic image has stood as a timeless symbol of American resolve in response to the attacks — it quickly went missing the same day it was hoisted. In its place, a second flag was circulated and celebrated, even autographed by former New York Gov. George Pataki and former New York City mayors Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg.

But it was soon discovered to be the wrong flag.

Meltzer, who attended the museum's ceremony unveiling the original flag, said it's been incredible "to even play a small role" in bringing it back to the site where it stood on 9/11. The museum display case exhibiting the flag and telling its story includes his name.

"It's one of those things where it doesn't seem real," he said Friday.

The famous photo, which is often compared to the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima, was taken by Thomas E. Franklin, a photojournalist for The Bergen Record in New Jersey. But by the time the image hit newsstands, the flag had been taken down.

"When the flag went missing on 9/11, it wasn't famous yet," Meltzer said. "It was only famous days later when the picture goes everywhere."

Meltzer said days after his show aired in October 2014, a Marine in Everett, Wash. turned the flag over to authorities. The Marine identified himself as just "Brian" and would only say he was turning the flag in on behalf of a widow of a 9/11 victim. He didn't take the $10,000 reward Meltzer offered on his show for the flag's return.

How it got to the Marine remains a mystery and an untold story Meltzer would like to learn more about and share someday, he said. He hopes a new show will generate some leads. On Sunday The History Channel plans to chronicle the flag's journey home in "America's 9/11 Flag: Rise from the Ashes," to be aired at 10:30 p.m.

Here is what is known so far: In 2014, law enforcement and the show's independent investigators worked to verify its authenticity through forensic and photo analyses and eyewitness testimony. Dust particles were found on the flag that placed it on the site of the World Trade Center, Meltzer said.

"Dust from ground zero is a fingerprint," he said. "To recreate the dust of 9/11 you have to recreate 9/11."

Still, investigators had to go further to confirm it was not just any other flag amid the rubble of ground zero, but the same flag firefighters took from a yacht docked near the World Trade Center and hoisted there.

So they enlisted the flag's original owner, Shirley Dreifus, who within a year of 9/11, had asked officials to borrow the flag for a charity event and discovered it wasn't the right one. It wasn't the flag that had flown on her vessel and inspired firefighters to symbolically raise American spirits as the flag went up amid rubble.

On Meltzer's show, Dreifus recalled the moment she and her husband realized the flag that officials had circulated, even taken on a Middle Eastern tour for troops, wasn't the 9/11 flag.

"We went to open it and lo and behold what we found was this gigantic flag that fit around both of us," Dreifus said. "And we said, this was not our 3[feet] by 5 [feet] little flag. It was a totally different flag. This was not the flag that was in the photograph."

Dreifus and a shipmate helped Meltzer's crew cinch the flag's authenticity with one small detail: the halyard, the clips and line you hoist the flag with.

"The halyard was very particular. It was, in a strange way, it was practically handmade," he said. "It's full of detail no one can possibly know."

At that point, a former FBI investigator of art crimes on Meltzer's team told him, "This flag is more authenticated than Rembrandts at museums."

Apart from recovering a national treasure, Meltzer was also motivated by the memory of his friend, Michele Heidenberger, a flight attendant killed aboard the American Airlines plane that crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11.


Watch the video: Θετική στον κορωνοϊό αν και εμβολιασμένη η Ελένη Δήμου-Εμβολιάστικα αλλά δεν πήρα την ζωή μου πίσω (May 2022).


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