Iconic Ground Zero Flag Donated to 9/11 Memorial Museum

The Ground Zero flag is seen on view at the 9/11 Memorial Museum.
Image of the Ground Zero flag on view in the 9/11 Memorial Museum. Photo by Jin Lee.

The iconic American flag three New York City firefighters raised above World Trade Center rubble on 9/11 that later disappeared has been recovered and donated to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. The historic flag is now on display at the 9/11 Memorial Museum in commemoration of the 15th anniversary of the attacks.

With the help 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 was donated to the Museum. The authenticity of the flag was determined through a months-long forensic investigation.

FDNY Three firefighters raise the American flag in the afternoon on the pile of wreckage of the World Trade Center, now Ground Zero. Dan McWilliams, George Johnson, Ladder 157, and Billy Eisengrein, Rescue 2 by Thomas E Franklin. Photo on view in 9/11 Memorial Museum. “In the darkest hours of 9/11 when our country was at risk of losing all hope, the raising of this American flag by our first responders helped reaffirm that the nation would endure, would recover and rebuild, that we would always remember and honor all of those who lost their lives and risk their own to save others,” 9/11 Memorial President Joe Daniels said. “We had always hoped this special flag and its story would be shared with our millions of annual visitors coming from around the world, and for that, we are thankful to Shirley Dreifus, the city of Everett, HISTORY, A+E Networks, and Chubb.”

Since its opening in 2014, the Museum displayed a large photograph of the three firefighters lifting the flag above the rubble as part of its historical exhibition. The raising of flag was photographed by Thomas E. Franklin, formerly of The Record of Bergen County, N.J. The image, which was circulated widely, captured the fortitude of first responders and became a symbol of hope and rebuilding in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks.

“The raising of this American flag was a powerful symbol of hope, strength and resilience at one of the most trying moments in our nation’s history,” said Chubb CEO Evan Greenberg. “As we prepare again to pay tribute to those who were lost, this flag is a timely reminder of the spirit of our heroes and the resolve of a great city and great nation. Chubb is honored to donate the flag to its new, permanent and proper home in the 9/11 Memorial Museum.”

By 9/11 Memorial Staff

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