USA: Sailors Witness Historic Moment

Sailors Witness Historic Moment

Sailors visiting Baltimore’s Sailabration and Baltimore Navy Week witnessed a historic moment, June 14, as three threads from the original Star-Spangled Banner were sewn into the National 9/11 Flag.

The ceremony, hosted by The Star-Spangled Banner House and New York Says Thank You Foundation, was attended by local VIPs and Navy officers, as well as families and friends of the team responsible for the National 9/11 Flag project.

The 30-foot American Ensign was found hanging from the side of a building just blocks away from the World Trade Center after the Sept. 11 attacks on New York City. In 2008, a project began to restore the flag from it’s damaged state by patching it with pieces of retired flags from all 50 states. The Flag Day ceremony in Baltimore coincides with the War of 1812 Bicentennial celebration and marks the placement of the final patch.

Two Sailors from the dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43) were selected to participate in a flag detail during the initial portion of the ceremony. The ship is named for Fort McHenry National Monument, where the Star-Spangled Banner was flown when Francis Scott Key saw it during the War of 1812, and was inspired to write the words that would eventually become the national anthem.

Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Nevada Pinto, a native of New York City, said he had no idea before he arrived just how unique the opportunity would be.

“If you’ve ever been a part of something bigger than yourself, this is it here,” said Pinto. “To have what happened in New York City, on 9/11, and to have the flag that was flown, and to see that stitching, is amazing. Very few people get to see this and I’m honored to be one of the few to see it.”

Speaking about a reception immediately preceding the event, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said having the Navy in Baltimore is an honor, especially as part of the War of 1812 Bicentennial.

“It’s so exciting and it’s an honor to host so many Sailors from all over the world, and to have the Navy participate in such a wonderful way,” she said. “You could hear – when the Navy captains were announced at our program earlier – you could hear the cheers because there’s so much pride; pride about our history, but also the future that they represent.”

Rear Adm. Gregory M. Nosal, commander of Carrier Strike Group 2, said there was a lot to be learned for Sailors who were present at the event.

“It’s an emotional day,” Nosal said. “We’re saluting the men and women who gallantly fought 200 years ago. We’re also saluting all of those who have fought in the conflicts since then, and we’re saluting those who are defending freedom today. To tie it all together with Sept. 11th, 2001 and 1812, there were a lot of patriots who gave their all so that we can live the way we live today.”

Now that the project is finished, it will go on permanent display in Manhattan where visitors will be able to see the flag at the 9/11 Memorial Museum when it opens.

Navy Week Baltimore is one of the signature events around the country commemorating the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 and “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Naval Today Staff , June 18, 2012; Image: US Navy