DEKALB (WIFR) -- When an American flag reaches its end it gets retired, but in DeKalb on Saturday, the public viewed one that had a different destiny, one that’s taken it across the country. Where’s it’s been and what attached to it gives it a special place in our country’s history.
We all remember the images of September, 11th 2001. The towers standing tall, but injured with smoke billowing out the sides. A while the country is still trying to comprehend what’s transpired on that morning in New York, one by one the towers come crashing to the ground. In the aftermath, a symbol of hope flew high above. A flag partially destroyed by the falling buildings hovered over the rubble. That flag was in DeKalb Illinois on Saturday.
“I love it,” said Utica Fire Protection District Assistant Fire Chief Ben Brown. “This is an amazing piece of history, a very emotional piece of history to say the least.”
“It kind of brings home what we seen out there and what those firefighters experienced,” said DeKalb Fire Chief Eric Hicks.
A group partially made up of 9/11 survivors, families and firefighters called the “New York Says Thank You Foundation” began taking the flag to every state attaching patches of other retired flags at each stop. Some of those patches are quite significant. One came from the flag Abraham Lincoln was wrapped in after being assassinated and another came from the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write what became our national anthem.
“To realize the number of communities that have contributed to the history of the flag is significant,” said newly elected DeKalb Mayor John Rey.
“This flag certainly symbolizes resilience,” said state representative Bob Pritchard. “That just symbolizes the hope and the future of our country, the love of country.”
The group was also in DeKalb to honor Lloyd Hatcher Jr.’s late father who was a former firefighter and member of the “New York Says Thank You Foundation”.
Lloyd Jr. says he’s proud his dad had a hand in bringing this flag back to life.
“This whole event today is really based on his service,” said Hatcher Jr. “As a father he taught me a lot through what he did with him giving back to the communities.”
Communities like DeKalb, which hosted the flag that’s only been in Illinois on two different occasions.
The foundation goes to communities throughout the U.S. struck by natural disasters and other struggles helping in any way they can the way other Americans did for them during 9/11.