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Memorial Day Display: Cross Stitch Flag Pays Tribute to Terror Victims

By Denise Brown
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 20, 2003 – Like many Americans in the days following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Elizabeth A. Barnes wanted to pay tribute to those who perished.

Barnes, the wife and daughter of Navy men, decided to use her needlework skills to honor the fallen. She endeavored to create a flag with all the names of the 9-11 victims and the 17 sailors who died in the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole in Yemen.

When Barnes began researching her project, she realized hundreds of Americans had died in other terrorist attacks over the past 30 years. She decided to memorialize many of them as well.

As she started to work, Barnes found the stitching "relatively easy," but "hard emotionally, with all the names." As more and more people became aware of her project, volunteers offered their time and expertise to painstakingly cross- stitch the individual fabric squares.

"When I started the Memorial Flag Project," Barnes stated on her Web site, "it was a way of coping with the tragedies of Sept. 11. At the time, I had no idea it was going to turn into something so large."

Although unable to include the names of everyone who has died as a result of terrorism, Barnes nevertheless wanted to convey the scope of the tragedies.

"I firmly believe that terrorism is caused by prejudice, ignorance and hate, and not by any certain religion, country or race," she wrote. "I hope that through this flag, and its many varied incidents, that people will come to understand what terrorism is, and through that understanding see the occurrence of terrorism become less and less."

More than 1,200 people worldwide stitched 3,774 individual squares to complete the flag that now measures 63 feet long and 35 feet wide. Each square includes a victim's name.

For those who fell victim to terrorist attacks prior to Sept. 11, the date of the attack is included on the individual square. Squares designed for fallen service members include emblems representing their service branch; fallen firefighters have the Maltese Cross; and fallen police officers show a police badge.

When all the squares were sent in and stitched together, Barnes took the flag on the road. She will display the commemorative work of art in Washington, on May 25 and 26. It can be viewed on the National Mall across from the National Air and Space Museum, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

"Most people are awed by the size of it and the [number of] people on the flag," Barnes said. "Some cry, some just give me hugs because they're very emotional. It hits people different ways."

For more on the Memorial Flag Project and future display dates and places, go to www.memorialflag.org.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageEmblems representing each military service are part of the pattern on individually stitched squares for fallen service men and women included in the Memorial Flag tribute to victims of terrorist attacks. (Courtesy Memorial Flag Project.)   
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