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Pennsylvania Group Loans Giant U.S. Flag to Pentagon

By Megan P. Weaver
Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 14, 2002 – "United We Stand, United We Sew" today loaned the Pentagon a 21-by-31-foot American flag made to honor the victims of the Sept. 11 tragedy.

Thomas McBrien, a contractor from Bucks County, Pa., got the idea for the organization when he wanted to display a giant American flag immediately after Sept. 11 but was unable to find one. He decided instead to piece together 4- by-6-inch miniature flags.

"I thought why not get the community involved and create something very large that could include a wide variety of individuals," McBrien said.

The organization brought together students, church groups, senior citizens, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. They sent interested groups and individuals 12 miniature flags and instructions for sewing them into panels for the giant flag, said McBrien's wife, Janny.

Volunteers RoseMary Gaibler, Louisa Wismer, Bernice Gilbert and Arlene Eichlin spent more than five months sewing the panels together to finish the project.

"I read about it in the local newspaper and got involved because I thought it would help the healing process," Wismer said.

The flag is composed of 3,014 miniature flags representing each victim, 86 hand-painted flags representing countries that had victims involved in the tragedy and hand-painted flags representing the service organizations that responded in the search for victims. In the blue field are four U.S. flags that flew over the U.S. Capitol, Pennsylvania's Capitol in Harrisburg, New York's Capitol in Albany, and the Bucks County Courthouse.

Before delivery to the Pentagon, the flag hung first at the medical examiner's site at Ground Zero in New York City from March 11 through May 20 and then the St. George Ferry terminal on Staten Island, N.Y, until June 14.

The flag will hang at the Pentagon from the third floor stairwell at the juncture of Corridors 3 and 4 until July 3. It will then be returned to Harrisburg for July 4.

Ralph Newton, deputy director for real estate and facilities, Washington Headquarters Services, accepted the flag on behalf of the Department of Defense.

"Events and gifts like this are truly a healing gesture and really have helped in the healing, and I think will ease the burden of those who remain and instill a determination for the work ahead," Newton said.

(Megan P. Weaver is an intern in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs.)

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageA Pentagon hallway's not big enough to completely unfurl a patchwork U.S. flag made by a Pennsylvania-based group and loaned to the Defense Department June 14, 2002, for two weeks. Dozens of hand- painted flags and more than 3,000 miniature American flags were stitched together to create the 21-by-31-foot finished product. Photo by Jim Garamone.   
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