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Vanished flag from famous 9/11 photo returns to ground zero – The American flag that was raised by firefighter

Photograph by Thomas E. Franklin, copyright The Record / Fair use / Wikipedia
Photograph by Thomas E. Franklin, copyright The Record / Fair use / Wikipedia

The Flag was Recovered After Being Missing for Years and is Now on Display in Museum
(New York) September 8, 2016 – The iconic American flag three New York City firefighters
raised above World Trade Center rubble on 9/11 that later disappeared has been recovered
and donated to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, 9/11 Memorial President Joe
Daniels and Chubb CEO Evan Greenberg announced today.

The historic flag is now on display at the 9/11 Memorial Museum in commemoration
of the 15-year anniversary of the 2001 attacks. With the help of the flag’s original owner,
Shirley Dreifus, in honor of her late husband Spiros E. Kopelakis, and in cooperation with
Chubb, the global insurance company, the flag was donated to the Museum.
The authenticity of the flag was determined through a months-long forensic investigation.
“In the darkest hours of 9/11 when our country was at risk of losing all hope, the
raising of this American flag by our first responders helped reaffirm that the nation would
endure, would recover and rebuild, that we would always remember and honor all of those
who lost their lives and risked their own to save others,” 9/11 Memorial President Joe
Daniels said. “We had always hoped this special flag and its story would be shared with our
millions of annual visitors coming from around the world, and for that, we are thankful to
Shirley Dreifus, the city of Everett, HISTORY, A+E Networks, and Chubb.”
“The raising of this American flag was a powerful symbol of hope, strength and
resilience at one of the most trying moments in our nation’s history,” said Greenberg. “As
we prepare again to pay tribute to those who were lost, this flag is a timely reminder of the
spirit of our heroes and the resolve of a great city and great nation. Chubb is honored to
donate the flag to its new, permanent and proper home in the 9/11 Memorial Museum.”

“We are honored that HISTORY played a role in the recovery and return of theGround Zero Flag, an important national symbol,” said Nancy Dubuc, president and CEO of A+E Networks. “The story of how the flag was found, authenticated and returned to New York is one of the great modern day mysteries solved. I am pleased we can bring the story  to a wider audience through ‘Ground Zero Flag Found.’”

Since its opening in 2014, the Museum displayed a large photograph of the three
firefighters lifting the flag above the rubble as part of its historical exhibition. The raising of
flag was photographed by Thomas E. Franklin, formerly of The Record of Bergen County,
N.J. The image, which was circulated widely, captured the fortitude of first responders and
became a symbol of hope and rebuilding in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks.
The flag had been taken from the Star of America, a yacht owned by Dreifus and the
late Kopelakis, which was docked at the World Financial Center. Later, a different flag was
believed to be the original. But the original was actually lost and no one knew it at the time.
HISTORY chronicles the story of the flag’s recovery and journey back to New York in
the special “Ground Zero Flag Found,” featuring best-selling author and HISTORY host Brad
Meltzer. It premieres Sunday, Sept. 11, at 10:30 p.m., ET/PT.
The documentary follows the discovery of the flag, uncovering the mystery of its
disappearance, and documenting the tests that prove its authenticity. The documentary
also covers the investigation by Washington state’s Everett Police Department, whose
dedication helped to bring the flag back to the public.
The story of the flag was shared in an October 2014 episode of the HISTORY series
“Brad Meltzer’s Lost History,” produced by Left/Right Productions. After the episode aired,
a person who wished to remain anonymous turned over the original flag to Everett police.
Police contacted HISTORY and Left/Right, and the three organizations began a forensic
investigation that determined overwhelming evidence that the flag is the Ground Zero Flag.
Chubb, which had insured Dreifus’s yacht, and paid a claim on the lost flag, joined her in
donating to the Memorial and Museum.

The National September 11 Memorial & Museum is the nonprofit organization that
oversees operations for the 9/11 Memorial and 9/11 Memorial Museum. Located on eight of
the 16 acres of the World Trade Center site, the Memorial and Museum remember and
honor the 2,983 people who were killed in the horrific attacks of September 11, 2001 and
February 26, 1993. The Memorial plaza design consists of two reflecting pools formed in the
footprints of the original Twin Towers surrounded by white oak trees.

The Museum displays more than 10,000 personal and monumental objects linked to the events of 9/11, while
presenting intimate stories of loss, compassion, reckoning and recovery that are central to
telling the story of the attacks and aftermath. It also explores the global impact of 9/11 and
its continuing significance through education programs, public programs, live talks and film
features that cover contemporary topics for diverse audiences. For more information or to
reserve a ticket to the 9/11 Memorial Museum, please visit

Sam Dickson

Sam Dickson is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News