National 9/11 Flag Ends 50-State Tour in Joplin
Missouri National Guard leaders wanted everyone locally to know about the momentous occasion that happened today in tornado-ridden Joplin. The following information was provided by public affairs officer Ann Keyes.
JOPLIN, MO—Soldiers, first responders and citizens assembled to thread the last stitches into the National 9/11 Flag as part of a Sept. 11 Memorial Service at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, the last stop on a 50-state tour before the banner returns to New York City and the World Trade Center site.
While noting the passing of 10 years since the United States was attacked on Sept. 11, the occasion was met with a sense of renewal, the flag itself, tattered in the carnage of the World Trade Center and now near-restored, was testimony to such.
"It's an incredible honor to be here," said Joplin chief of police Lane
Roberts, who told those in attendance that the meaning of 9/11 is not found in acts of terrorism but in the resiliency of the human spirit during and after tragedy.
"September 11 became America's moment to discover what it means to be free, courageous and united," said Roberts. "This flag, like our nation, has been restored and preserved."
Jeff Parness, founder and executive director of New York Says Thank You Foundation, the group responsible for the restoration of the flag that once stood across the street from the World Trade Center towers, echoed the sentiment.
"What we do is about 9/12," said Parness of his group's mission to bring the destroyed flag back to the World Trade Center site stitched back together by the hands of first responders, soldiers, government officials and survivors of disaster.
Joplin, the site of the nation's deadliest single tornado on May 22 of this year, was deemed the perfect place to end the restoration tour.
"This community is about May 23, about love and compassion," said Parness of those who performed rescue and recovery operations after the twister and of those who have worked to rebuild the city as volunteers. "It shows the world who you really are."
Following a formal commemoration of 9/11, several in attendance took to the flag to add the last stitches, including first responders, citizens hard-hit by the tornado and members of Joplin's 203rd Engineer Battalion, Missouri National Guard Soldiers who responded to the twister within hours of it hitting their home area.
"It's great to be able to recognize 9/12 on 9/11," said the battalion's administrative officer, Maj. Michael Brown. "It's great to be a part of helping to restore New York, Joplin and the United States."
Roberts said the flag's last stitches' coming from Joplin is fitting.
"This city, like this flag, displays courage, resiliency and unity," said