A 9/11 International Memorial Flag was unveiled at the Destin-Ft. Walton Beach Airport Monday afternoon. The 9/11 Memorial Flag consists of nearly three thousand smaller American Flags sewn together into one massive Memorial Flag. Each flag represents a victim from the World Trade Center, Pentagon, Virginia and Flight #93 that lost their life in the 2001 terrorist attack on the U. S.
“This is quite an honor for Eglin, the Destin-FWB Airport, as well as our visitors and residents, to have this flag on exhibit until it goes to its final resting place in September at the 9/11 Museum in New York City,” stated Chairman Kelly Windes, Okaloosa County Commission.
Promoted as a National Treasure, the 9/11 International Memorial Flag: United We Stand: United We Sew: Operation Never Forget, is now on display in the lobby of VPS in Okaloosa County. The gigantic flag is twenty two feet long by thirty two feet wide (22 ft. x 32 ft.) and comprised of over 2,983 miniature American flags sized 4"x 6".
“We are blessed and humbled by the selection of Okaloosa County to display such a treasure. The location of the flag is the only location in the terminal capable of displaying it, which is so fitting. The accessibility of it to the public and positioned behind the TSA baggage screening,” said Airports Director Tracy Stage.
The 9/11 International Memorial Flag includes flags representing the service organizations that participated in the recovery and rescue efforts on that auspicious day, as well as nation flags from countries that also lost citizens. Displayed in the center of the flag is a depiction of "THE PRAYING HANDS" which is meant to symbolize a message of hope and salvation for everyone.
“This special flag honors the victims’ families and reminds all people of the world how much we Americans care for one another and value human life,” affirmed Representative Craig T. Staats, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg.
United We Stand, United We SEW is a community project where volunteers of Bucks County, PA and Hunterdon County, NJ came together to create and sew the Memorial Flag. Community members participating in the project included senior citizens, students, scouts, churches and volunteers with the project taking over five months to complete.
The ceremony Monday at the Destin-Ft. Walton Beach Airport was open to the public with active duty service members, retired military, first responders, and county city officials on hand.
“It is appropriate that our joint use airport was selected to exhibit the 9/11 International Memorial Flag, where it can be viewed among the other tributes to our military in and around VPS," said Carolyn Ketchel, vice-chairwoman of the Okaloosa County Commission. " Okaloosa County is home to the men and women who have fought terrorism since the tragic events on that fateful day in 2001.”
The Memorial Flag was presented to New York City at a ceremony aboard the USS Intrepid, on March 11, 2002. Since that time over 6,000,000 people have viewed the 9/11 International Memorial Flag, as it traveled from the west coast to east coast, to these sites and more:
· Medical examiner's site near GROUND ZERO
· The Pentagon
· Pennsylvania State Capitol building, Shanksville, PA. (Note, United Airlines Flight #93, steered toward Washington, D.C., crashed in a field near Shanksville.)
· St. George Ferry Terminal on Staten Island
· Peterson Automotive Museum in Los Angeles
· Hotel Pennsylvania in NYC at the 9/11/2002 Anniversary
· Fire Fighters Memorial Ceremony FDNY on 10/12/2002
· Curtis Center in Philadelphia
· USS New Jersey on the Delaware River in Camden, NJ
· Camp Shelby Joint Training Center in MS
· Willow Grove Naval Air Station, 177th Fighter Wing in Egg Harbor, NJ
· Liberty State Park, Jersey City, NJ
· 2014 Bloomsburg State Fair, PA
· Overseas, to include Al-Faw Palace - Camp Victory, Iraq
“The purpose of this flag is Never to Forget our Veterans, to support our troops in the war against terrorism and to show the victim's families that "WE care and we will NEVER FORGET," exclaimed Thomas McBrien, whose idea and recruitment efforts made the Honor Flag a reality.
Okaloosa County is the final stop on the flag’s tour before returning home to New York. The 9/11 International Memorial Flag will be on display at the Destin-Ft. Walton Beach Airport until September.