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baltimore flag house flag stitching Threads from the Star Spangled Banner are stitched into the National 9/11 Memorial Flag at the Star Spangled Banner Flag House in Baltimore on June 14, 2012. (Photo: LSD Photography)

One Flag, 200 Years of History

Connecting two moments when our flag was still there

By Hannah Prensky | July 3 , 2012

Every Independence Day, America stops and celebrates its birthday. But Americans also spend the Fourth of July remembering the men and women who fought in wars and conflicts since the Revolutionary War. This year, the nation marks the 50th anniversary of the start of the Vietnam War and the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812.

On June 14, Flag Day, the Star Spangled Banner Flag House in Baltimore, Maryland, commemorated the bicentennial of the War of 1812 with a stitching ceremony. Three threads from the original Star Spangled Banner were woven into the National 9/11 Memorial Flag, forever linking two key moments in America's history.

David Guildea, President of the Star Spangled Banner Flag House, paid tribute to those who sacrificed their lives and died displaying courage under difficult circumstances.

"From this day forth, the two-century-old legacy of Baltimore's efforts to defend this country will be linked with one of our greatest memorials to 9/11", he said.

After touring the 50 states, the 9/11 flag made a special stop in Baltimore before becoming a part of the permanent collection of the National September 11 Memorial Museum at the World Trade Center in New York City.

Jeff Parness, the founder and Chairman of the New York Says Thank You Foundation, presented the flag and its inspiring story. (The New York Says Thank You Foundation sends hundreds of volunteers from New York and around the country to help rebuild communities recovering from disaster.)

threads from war of 1812 flag
On Flag Day 2012, three threads from the original Star Spangled Banner
that inspired the poem by Francis Scott Key during the
War of 1812 were stitched onto the National 9/11 Memorial Flag that flew over
Ground Zero. (Photo: LSD Photography)
"In the days following 9/11, a 30-foot American flag was dangling, torn and tattered, from 90 West Street, the building directly south from where World Trade Center once stood," Parness remembered. "As the days went by, the white stripes turned grey from the smoke at Ground Zero. As the weeks went by, the flag was shredded as it flew across the scaffolding that was heavily damaged in the collapse of the South Tower."

Once cleanup workers rescued the flag, it was going to be honorably retired. This is what happens to all flags no longer fit to fly. Instead, it was restored by New York Says Thank You volunteers from all 50 states who sewed patches from other retired flags into the 9/11 flag.

Along the way, the 9/11 flag has become a symbol of the many stories of service and sacrifice, Parness said.

"The Texas patch was sewn by soldiers and children who survived the shooting at Fort Hood, the Hawaii patch was sewn on the deck of USS Missouri in Pearl Harbor, on Pearl Harbor day," Parness explained. "This flag has been sewn by survivors of Columbine High School and the Oklahoma City bombing, by firefighters who braved their lives in Louisiana following [Hurricane] Katrina, and by members of the space program at the Kennedy Space Center."   

The National 9/11 Flag and the original Star Spangled Banner became forever linked as the Maryland patch was sewn on. The patch included three threads from the 30-by-42-foot flag made in 1813 by Mary Pickersgill. This is the original flag that flew over Fort McHenry during the War of 1812 and inspired Francis Scott Key to write "The Star Spangled Banner."

"It is our hope and our prayer that for generations to come, the National Flag does not just tell the story of what happened on 9/11, but more importantly it tells the story of what happened on 9/12, when Americans came together to help each other recover and heal," said Jeff Parness in closing the ceremony.

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blog it How do you celebrate the Fourth of July? Do you and your family have any Independence Day traditions? If so, what are they?

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