Betty Neilsen, Freedom Quilts, Fonda, Iowa
“I was so touch and honor to be actually stitching the flag that survive 9/11. It was a huge honor indeed. I was one of them that was pick to put the first stitch here in Iowa. You see because of what happen on 9/11 we have been quilting and making quilts for the 9/11 families and fallen solder families. So when I was ask to come and put my stitches in the flag it gave me goose bumps. As I put my stitch into this beautiful flag I was reminded that the flag is a symbol of all of us American. Even with all the devastation that flag was still standing just like us American. We stood side by side reaching out and helping our fellow American. The 9/11 American flag stand for strength, courage, compassion, loyalty honor respect, freedom, and ready to stand together to protect this country we love so dear. I brought my family and my Freedom Quilters and we stayed and help out. I stayed by the flag helping those that wanted to put a stitch but didn’t know how, so I show them how so they can also feel honor to be repairing our flag. Some of my Freedom Quilters did the same they were either helping someone put stitches on the flag, threading needles or having them sign in and then come and stitch. It was an amazing day for all of us. It’s a reminder to me every day why we love this country so much.”
“It truly was a day that will never be forgotten both putting my “stitch in time” and of what it represents, these experiences are with me forever. Being a part of our country’s response is something that I wish everyone could feel, it may be a small thing, one stitch….. but the impact should strike to your core. We will never forget the ones who we have lost.”
Gretchen Baker, Fayetteville, N.C.
“My boyfriend (David Harvey) was the one who wasn’t in uniform because he was off… He still showed up and took it upon himself to help…He works for The City Of Fayetteville NC it was so awe inspiring to watch him hellp fold the flag… He was the Leader basically doing most of the folding and was the one holding the flag at the end, I was so proud.”
“In the summer of 2013, the National 9-11 Flag made it to the Jersey Shore at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ. Joe Bartumioli invited the family and friends of the recently passed James Gandolfini. Jim was a huge supporter of the men and women of the NYFD, NYPD, PAPD, EMT, and the volunteers who gave everything they could during the 9-11 tragedy and it’s aftermath. Jim’s giving spirit lived on as his son Michael put a stitch in the flag. Later in this amazing day, Michael joined his cousins Laura and Jenna Antonacci proudly displaying the battered but beautiful Flag for the playing of the Star Spangled Banner. It was a day that meant so much to honor all those who had given so much, and to hold the Flag that symbolizes the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.”
“As we unfolded the flag at Rayprice Harley Davidson in Raleigh N.C. and we were all just standing there speechless a lady just started the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag and everyone just stop in there tracts and joined in. This was just one of the great moments. In all it was just a great honor to be ask to help with this event.”
“I was given the honor of stitching THE FLAG when it came to the Kennedy Space Center. I found myself crying during the ceremony along with most everyone who attended. I felt very close to those we lost and their families. Thank you for this wonderful honor.”
Mary Lou Schenk
“I WAS ON THE TEAM HERE IN GREENSBURG,KS..WHEN THE FLAG WAS BROUGHT IN A BAG TO US AT THE CARRIAGE HOUSE TO SEE WHAT WE COULD DO TO REPAIR IT AS THE VERY FIRST EFFORT AND SOME OF US WORKED VERY TIRELESSLY ON IT AND WERE HAPPY TO DO SO..AND INSPIRED AS WE PATCHED IN BOYSCOUT FLAGS AND WHATEVER WE COULD DO TO SUSTAIN THE EDGES AND HEMS…IT WAS THEN VIEWED AT OUT TEMPORARY SCHOOL AUDTIORIUM IN A PATRIOT GUARD PARADE..BAGPIPES AND ALL…AS WE WERE TRYING TO RECOVER FROM OUR TORNADO THAT WIPED OUT 97 % OF OUR TOWN…WE LOVED BEING A PART OF THE FLAG’S RESTORATION.”
“It was an honor to participate in something so meaningful and patriotic. I got to share it with my children, my sister and one of my friends/co-workers. This event was near and dear to my heart, with a husband and many close friends and family having served or currently serving in the Armed Forces protecting and defending the flag every day. I am so proud of each and every one of them. It’s also amazing to think that one tiny stitch, one well known symbol of the United States can bring so many different people together but all for one purpose. God Bless America.”
Richard Lindsey – Carpenters Local 547-San Diego
“My National 911 Flag Moment took place March 13, 2011 on the hangar deck of the USS Midway which is berthed at Navy Pier at the Embarcadero along San Diego’s harbor. It was not only an honor for me to place a stitch in the flag, but to represent my union in doing so, especially since our involvement with NYSTY goes back to the very beginning at the Harbison Canyon project. I take the world view that “to much is given, much is expected” and look forward to serving with my friends and the New York Says Thank You Foundation on future projects.”
“My brother Charlie Vitchers had seen the flag hanging on the scaffolding on the building across from the World Trade Center and once the building was stabilized he sent a crew up and retrieved it. Charlie took the flag home for safekeeping until it was given a chance for a proper retirement. He noticed someone had cut pieces from it. He announced the next day at the construction meeting that if anyone had the pieces to return them, no questions asked. He did get back two large sections by noon. Charlie called me and said he was mailing me a large portion of the flag he was able to recover and asked me to take care of it. He was very upset when he saw others tore it apart, he could not believe their disrespect. My husband is retired Navy and he and Charlie discussed the retirement process for someday when the time was right. I do not remember the date it was mailed. It was within a day after it came off the scaffolding.
When it arrived at my home the flag still had dust and dirt all over it and smelled like smoke. I carefully folded it to save for when he was ready to retire it. My quilting friend Judy Mummert came over to help me fold the flag and wrap it in muslin. We prayed over it and realized the dust was from the remains of those lost that day.
I reminded Charlie occasionally that I had the flag, and he always said just hang on to it for now. He knows I am a quilter and jokingly said it was my new quilting project. I kept it in my quilt studio and would take it out and refold it occasionally so it would not wear on the folds I would also pray for the lost souls whose ashes were embedded in the flag. It is more than just fabric it is a living memorial.
Charlie has always been a quiet behind the scenes man. I found out about the Flag project during a conversation with Charlie he was elated to realize I still had the parts he sent to me and it could be sewn back with its other pieces. That is when he told me about the New York Says Thank You Project and the Flag restoration effort. I mailed it to you the next day.
I am sorry I did not document the details of the dates when he sent it to me. I do know that Charlie was very aware of the Historic value of his job and anything relevant he kept.”
Veronica Christensen (2)
“Joplin was very emotional from one spectrum to the other… So many happy moments and so many sad ones were shared by so many residents. I met Mr. Nick DiMartino, his sister was killed at the WTC he now works for FEMA and was in Joplin, on 9-09-11 Friday night we opened the flag in the parking lot of the Holiday Inn where the NYSTY group was staying, he came out with us as we opened the flag. We went around the flag starting with Charlie Vitchers stating our name, where we came from and why we are there. When it came to his turn he said “I am Nick DiMartino, From NYC now living in Joplin, Thank you for letting me hold my sister Deborah Ann my arms once again”. Yeah, I got all emotional as well as everyone else holding the flag. Tears flowed freely. We all started singing the Star Spangled Banner. That was a moment in time I will never forget.”