On May 20, 2015, Museum curators installed the National 9/11 Flag in the south corridor of the 9/11 Memorial Museum.
The 30-foot wide American flag originally hung on the façade of a building across from the World Trade Center site. Nearly a month after 9/11, construction superintendent Charlie Vitchers noticed the tattered flag while working on the pile at Ground Zero. Concerned that the flag was becoming dirty and damaged, Vitchers asked ironworkers to take the flag down. Seven years later, Vitchers became involved with the New York Says Thank You Foundation, a charity established by Jeff Parness to pay forward the support New York City received after 9/11 by helping to rebuild other communities that suffered from disasters. In 2008, Vitchers took the flag with him to Greenberg, Kansas, a community that was impacted by a tornado.
While there, citizens began to restore the damaged flag by patching it with pieces of other damaged flags from their community, thus starting a national renovation project for the flag.
By the 10 year anniversary of September 11, the flag had traveled to all 50 states. In each state, threads or patches from decommissioned American flags were stitched into the flag. Carolyn Deters, Director of Administration at the New York Say Thank You Foundation, helped organize the stitching ceremonies. She remembers, “The love and respect the Honor Guard displayed, the moving tribute of the speakers, and the awe of the audience made it all worthwhile. Being able to help each stitcher and hear what this meant to them is an irreplaceable memory.”
Exactly one year ago, first responders joined representatives from New York Says Thank You Foundation in presenting the National 9/11 Flag to the 9/11 Memorial Museum in a ceremony on the Memorial plaza, officially marking the public opening of the Museum.
Chief Curator Jan Ramirez says, “We are thrilled to share with the public this wonderful symbol of national resilience exactly one year after it came into our care.”
By Jenny Pachucki, Content Strategist