McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

CNHI Special Projects

September 12, 2011

Tornado survivors sew last stitches into 9/11 flag

JOPLIN, Mo. — The last stitches were hand-sewn into the National 9/11 Flag Sunday by first responders and survivors of the nation's deadliest tornado in five decades.

The final swaths represented fragments of U.S. flags salvaged from Joplin's May 22 twister that took 160 lives and destroyed one-third of the city.

It will now become part of the permanent collection of the National 9/11 Memorial Museum at Ground Zero in New York City.

What started out as a tattered U.S. flag that flew on a building next to the collapsed twin towers has been completely restored, a testament, sponsors say, to the resilience and compassion of the American people.

The restortation project started in Greensburg, Kan., four years ago after a devastating tornado there, and has included additions from other tragedies, including the rampage at Ft. Hood, Tex., the attack on Pearl Harbor and even a piece of the flag Abraham Lincoln rested on after being shot.

School children, soldiers, police officers, firefighters and everyday volunteers from all 50 states have stitched the 20-foot-by-30-foot flag together. Directing the project has been the New York Says Thank You Foundation.

Jennifer Gilbert of Joplin, whose home was damaged in the tornado three months ago, brought her son, 12, and daughter, 14, to the flag-stitching ceremony on the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

"It really makes you realize what the people in New York and the people directly affected were feeling," said Gilbert. "It is great to see how far they've come, and I know we're going to do that, too. I can see that our city will be able to rebuild and stay strong like New York."

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Details for this story were provided by the Joplin, Mo., Globe.

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