The US flag that three weary New York City firefighters hoisted above the wreckage of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, became an instant icon when a photo capturing the moment was published around the world and turned it into a symbol of the nation’s resilience after the shocking attacks.
According to a new documentary, that flag disappeared the night of September 11 and has never been seen again.
For 12 years, it was thought that the flag was removed from its makeshift flag pole at Ground Zero and appeared at a New York Yankees game before being flown atop the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt as it launched airstrikes on the Taliban in Afghanistan.
However, CNN documentaryThe Flag claims that the real Stars and Stripes from that memorable 9/11 photo has vanished – and has never been seen again in public since that tragic day.
Filmmakers Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein believe a first responder took down the flag and has been keeping it as a souvenir.
The 3-foot-by-5-foot flag, along with the mast, was taken from a boat docked near the World Trade Center by firefighters George Johnson, Dan McWilliams and Billy Eisengrein on that tragic morning.
The iconic flag disappeared the night of September 11 and has never been seen again
When the original owners of the flag, Shirley Dreifus and Spiros Kopelakis, asked for it to be temporarily returned, the flag they were sent – the one that had been publicly autographed by Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Governor George Pataki at the Yankees game – turned out not to be their flag. It was much bigger.
“That’s not the flag that they raised on 9/11. The flag that went to Yankee Stadium, or was on the ship, could not have been the flag that was in the photograph,” Shirley Dreifus tells the filmmakers.
Shirley Dreifus and Spiros Kopelakis sent the “fake” flag back to City Hall, where that one has apparently been lost, as well.
Bergen County Record photographer Thomas Franklin took the iconic photos of the three FDNY firefighters raising the Stars and Bars above Ground Zero that afternoon.
Billy Eisengrein, the man pictured on the right in photo, said he and the other firefighters went straight back to work after hoisting the flag – there were still people trapped in the rubble.
“It was literally over in just a few minutes. We found a spot and raised the flag. The three of us looked at each other, we looked at the flag, and that was that,” he told the filmmakers.
“We just felt that we had other things that needed to be accomplished right then.”
Video obtained by the CNN camera crew from the night of September 11 shows that the flagpole was bare even then – meaning the famous Stars and Stripes flew just a few hours before it was taken down and spirited away.
Ahead of the eleventh commemoration of the 9/11 attacks, the New York Skyline has been lit up with twin lights, filling the hole left by the World Trade Center.
The bright beams shooting up into the sky are turned on every September 11, and today’s 11th anniversary is no different.
Memorial services are set to take place at Ground Zero and hundreds of other venues around the globe.
One tribute to the victims comes at Highland Memorial Park in Ocala, Florida, where 2,741 American flags – one for each of the attacks’ victims – have been planted in a moving act of remembrance.
The New York skyline has been lit up with twin lights, filling the hole left by the World Trade Center
On Monday, Leon Panetta attended a ceremony at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
The Secretary of Defense called the site “the final resting place of American patriots”, and said he was there “to extend our nation’s deepest gratitude to the heroes of Flight 93”.
For the first time, the memorial ceremony at the 9/11 National Memorial in Manhattan will not feature any politicians this year, in an attempt to focus it on the private grief of survivors and victims’ relatives.
Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are expected to limit their campaigning, and to cancel negative advertising for the day.
The President has been briefed by top national security aides on what steps the government was taking to reduce the possibility of reprisal attacks on the 9/11 anniversary.
The White House said on Monday that Barack Obama and his advisers discussed specific measures the administration was taking to prevent related attacks.
They also discussed steps that were being taken to protect Americans abroad and U.S. forces serving in combat zones.
Barack Obama has instructed government agencies to do everything possible to protect the American people both at home and abroad.
The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001 killed nearly 3,000 people and led to long-running U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
For almost ten years Denise Scott believed her husband Randy had been killed on impact when United Airlines Flight 175 smashed into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
But last year, just weeks before the 10-year anniversary of the horrific 9/11 attack, she received a call that changed her life – and the story of her husband’s death.
A note in his handwriting and with a smudge of his blood had been found, reading: “84th floor. West Office. 12 people trapped.”
The note had drifted to the ground outside the building just moments before it collapsed – and left Randy Scott’s wife and three children horrified that he had been alive to experience fear.
“I spent 10 years hoping that Randy wasn’t trapped in that building,” Denise Scott, 57, told the Stamford Advocate from her Stamford, Connecticut home.
“You don’t want them to suffer. They’re trapped in a burning building. It’s just an unspeakable horror. And then you get this 10 years later. It just changes everything.”
Randy Scott, 48, worked at Euro Brokers Inc. in the World Trade Center when he phoned the school where his wife taught to let her know that one of the Twin Towers had been hit by a plane.
A note in Randy Scott handwriting and with a smudge of his blood had been found at World Trade Center
Believing the first crash was minor, he asked to pass on the message that he was fine – and she only discovered the full horror when her daughter Rebecca called from college later that morning.
In the days after the attacks, Denise Scott and her three daughters checked bars, restaurants and hospitals for their husband and father, the Advocate reported.
Nearly 10 years later, in August 2011, Denise Scott received a call from Dr. Barbara Butcher, chief of staff and director of Forensic Investigations at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of New York.
Aware that the office called families if they came across fragments of victims, Denise Scott asked what it was they had found.
“She said, <<No, it’s not a fragment. It’s something written>>,” Denise Scott said.
“And that’s when I just fell apart.”
The note had been found on the street amid the chaos on 9/11 and handed to a guard at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. As he reached for his radio to alert help, the tower crumbled.
The Federal Reserve kept the note and eventually turned it over to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, which worked with the medical examiner’s office.
It was linked to Randy Scott after a medical examiner carried out DNA tests on a dark spot on the note, and discovered it was Scott’s blood.
After taking the phone call from the Medical Examiner’s office, Denise Scott travelled to New York with Randy’s best friend to see the note.
“The minute I saw it I didn’t need to see the DNA test,” she said.
“I saw the handwriting. It’s Randy’s handwriting.”
She added: “I’m speechless that they actually were able to identify it. This note was written on September 11. It came out of a window. Somebody had it. People had their hands all over it.”
Butcher from the Medical Examiner’s office asked if the museum could exhibit the letter and Denise agreed – but asked for them to keep it quiet until she told her daughters.
But the months passed and the girl returned to college, and Denise Scott struggled to find the right moment, she told the Advocate. When her father died in January, she realized it was time.
Her daughters, Rebecca, Alexandra, and Jessica, were stunned to hear of the note.
“I was bawling, because I recognized his handwriting,” Rebecca Scott, 29, recalled.
“I thought he was killed instantly.”
Alexandra, 22, added: “Everyone hoped that it was right on impact. That he didn’t suffer.”
They had hoped the same for his colleagues, too, she said, who also had children and families. The Scotts began reaching out to other relatives of those killed alongside Randy, to tell them the truth.
Denise Scott said that although it changed their knowledge of that day for the worse, she is so thankful she found out the truth – while other families have chosen not to be notified when fragments are found.
Jan Ramirez, chief curator of the museum, told the Advocate: “It’s so amazing to think that Randy Scott wrote it and it eventually ended up with his wife and three daughters, which is an amazing arc of a day.
“We are incredibly proud to be able to show it and I think it will be one of the most powerful artifacts in the museum.”
In 2011, US commemorates 10 years since 19 al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked three passenger planes and ploughed them into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. A fourth passenger plane allegedly heading straight for Capitol Hill or the White House crashed in a field in rural Pennsylvania, killing all onboard. 2,993 people were killed and thousands injured in the co-ordinated attacks.
9/11 (September 11, 2001) marked one of the biggest news events in modern history and almost everyone will remember where they were when the story broke.
9/11: 20 people were pulled from the rubble alive
According to Yahoo! there are nine surprising things people may not have known about 9/11:
1. 20 people were pulled from the rubble alive
According to 9/11 research on World Trade Center survivors, 20 people were pulled from the rubble alive. Among the survivors were John McLoughlin and William Jimeno, two Port Authority policemen, who were rescued after being buried in debris around a freight elevator for about 13 and 21 hours. They were the subject of the 2006 Oliver Stone film ‘World Trade Center.’
Pasquale Buzzelli, a structural engineer for the Port Authority, and Genelle Guzman, a secretary, were in offices on the 64th floor of the North Tower when the building was hit. Buzzelli was knocked unconscious for three hours, and awoke on a hill of rubble, looking at the sky. Suffering from a broken foot, cuts and a concussion, he was removed by rescue workers and evacuated on a stretcher. Guzman, who was just below the surface, was rescued more than 27 hours after the Tower fell. Her leg was crushed but she fully recovered within four months.
2. Second biggest loss of life – the British nationality people
It wasn’t just Americans who fell victim to the attacks at both the World Trade Center and The Pentagon. More than 80 nationalities suffered at least one loss from the day’s horrific events, including Japanese, Irish, British, Australian, New Zealanders, Swiss, Indian, Mexican, Brazilian, South African and Canadian. Out of 372 foreign fatalities, 67 people of British nationality died.
3. Ron DiFrancesco managed to escape from collapsing South Tower
37-year-old Canadian DiFrancesco was escaping the World Trade Center South Tower as the second plane hit between the 77th and 85th floors, immediately throwing him against the wall on impact. After making a difficult descent to the ground floor, DiFrancesco managed to exit the building – which then collapsed behind him.
Engulfed in a fireball, DiFrancesco woke in hospital days later with lacerations on his head, burns all over his body and a broken bone in his back. After his miraculous escape he was one of only four people to escape from above the South Tower 81st floor.
9/11: fires raged for 99 days
4. Fires raged for 99 days
It took 99 days for the fires at Ground Zero to be extinguished completely. At 8.46am on 11 September the fires started as the first plane hit the North Tower. The remaining fires were eventually put out on 19 December.
5. A third skyscraper fell down
A third skyscraper World Trade Center (WTC) Building 7 – a 47-story building and one of the largest in downtown Manhattan fell during the attacks. It went largely unnoticed in the media because it hadn’t been hit by a plane. It is commonly believed that ‘ancillary damage’ from the collapses of the Twin Towers led to the collapse of WTC Building 7.
The 9/11 Commission Report states: “The total collapse of the third huge skyscraper late in the afternoon September 11th was reported as if it were an insignificant footnote… most people never saw video of Building 7’s collapse… Incredibly, it is virtually impossible to find any mention of Building 7 in newspapers, magazines, or broadcast media reports after September 11th.”
6. Code messages were sent out online by 9/11 conspirators
It is claimed that one of the 9/11 conspirators – Abu Abdul Rahman – sent a coded love post on an Internet chat room to his “German girlfriend” weeks before the attack, who turned out to be fellow 9/11 conspirator Ramzi Binalshibh.
The message allegedly read: “The first semester commences in three weeks. Two high schools [Twin Towers] and two universities [Washington DC targets] … This summer will surely be hot …19 [the eventual number of hijackers] certificates for private education and four exams [the number of planes used]. Regards to the professor. Goodbye.”
CNN reports that about three weeks before 9/11, targets were assigned to four teams, with three of them bearing a code name. The US Capitol building was called ‘The Faculty of Law;’ the Pentagon became ‘The Faculty of Fine Arts;’ and the North Tower of the World Trade Center was code-named as ‘The Faculty of Town Planning.’
7. One company – Cantor Fitzgerald – lost 2/3 of its workforce
Global financial services firm Cantor Fitzgerald was the worst business affected by the 9/11 attacks. Unfortunately, its New York headquarters based on the 101st and 105th floors at One World Trade Center lost 658 out its 960-strong workforce – which amounted to two third of its total NYC staff.
After the tragedy hit, CEO Howard Lutnick called a colleague and said: “We could shut the firm and attend our friends’ funerals, or we’re going to work harder than we’ve ever worked before to help their families.” And that’s exactly what they did. Ten years later, Cantor Fitzgerald has handed out more than $180 million (£109 million) to the families of the deceased staff and has fulfilled its promise to pay their health care.
9/11: World Trade Center steel was sold on
8. World Trade Center steel was sold on
What did the US authorities do with the 185,101 tons of steel left at Ground Zero? They recycled it. The American public was outraged because authorities removed the steel before it was properly tested for evidence. Mayor Bloomberg responded by saying: “If you want to take a look at the construction methods and the design, that’s in this day and age what computers do. Just looking at a piece of metal generally doesn’t tell you anything.”
According to the ‘9/11 Research’ Website, the bulk of the steel was shipped to China and India. The Chinese firm Baosteel purchased 50,000 tons at a rate of $120 (£73) per ton. The rest of the steel was used for memorial material across all 50 states.
9. Plane engine survives crash
In the wake of the attacks, engineers volunteered to investigate the structural responses of the WTC buildings. According to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a single engine from one of the planes that struck the Twin Towers miraculously survived the plane crash and the explosion and collapse of the Towers.