Missing flag in iconic Ground Zero photo returns to New York

NEW YORK, Sept. 8 (UPI) — A U.S. flag featured in an iconic photo taken at Ground Zero on September 11, 2001, is back in New York, 15 years after it went missing.

The flag disappeared within hours of the photo being taken by Tom Franklin, a photographer for the New Jersey newspaper Bergen Record. It turned up at an Everett, Wash., fire station two years ago and will be unveiled Thursday, 15 years later, at the National September 11 Memorial Museum at the site of the World Trade Center.

“I’m glad that the flag is going to be at the 9/11 museum; that’s where it belongs,” said Franklin, who retired from the newspaper and is now a journalism professor at Montclair State University.

The photograph shows a flag being hoisted on a flagpole by firefighters, and became symbolic of patriotism in the face of disaster and of the work of first responders.

The flag was originally taken from a yacht in New York harbor, and was lost after it was raised at Ground Zero. A substitute flag, purported to be the original, was displayed around New York after the terrorist attack.

“The symbolism of what they did in raising that flag resonates with people,” Franklin said.

A documentary television program about the lost flag, Lost History TV, prompted a man, identified only as Brian, to bring the original flag to a fire station in Washington state. He said he was a war veteran, the Everett Herald reported at the time, who received the flag in 2007 from a person at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who obtained it from a widow of the attack, NBC News reported.

Forensic research on the flag, 5 feet by 8 feet in size, identified minute tears, among other evidence, and revealed it was the flag from the photograph.

“The dust and debris that was on that flag was consistent with dust and debris at Ground Zero,” Everett Fire Chief Dan Templeman said.

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