UPDATED 05/03/11 6:03 p.m.
HINES, Ill. (CBS) — Memories of the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, when Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda terrorists crashed commercial jets into each tower of the World Trade Center, came to the forefront Tuesday at the Hines Veterans’ Administration Hospital near Maywood.
A flag that was all but destroyed at Ground Zero is on display at the hospital, and is being repaired to its original glory. CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley has the story.
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The tattered flag was found near the World Trade Center site just after Sept. 11. It is now being stitched back together by all 50 states.
The flag is making its way across the country. Illinois is the 19th state to take part in the effort to restore it.
People on hand were given a chance to put new stitches in the flag.
Among those honored were Chicago Fire Commissioner Bob Hoff and his brother, Michael, a disabled veteran who suffered those injuries in Vietnam.
Both had been nominated for that honor by Bob Hoff’s wife, Joyce. She says she nominated Mike Hoff for his service in Vietnam, and Bob for heroism he’s shown in the Chicago Fire Department for so many years.
On the killing of Osama bin Laden, Bob Hoff said Bin Laden got what he deserved. “What goes around, comes around”, Hoff said. Hoff rushed to New York to help in the days after the attacks.
Hoff said the appearance of the flag and the killing of Bin Laden shows “they can’t beat us. Nobody can beat us. … They’re not going to beat the United States. They’re not going to do it.”
The 20-foot-by-30-foot American flag was actually stitched together seven years after 9/11 by volunteers in New York. On Monday night, a few New York firefighter flew the flag to Illinois, and on Tuesday, they were escorted by 25 Warriors’ Watch Riders on motorcycles – most of them veterans.
Now it is being restored by inserting patches to cover the holes. Former Army Special Forces man Gerald Paulsen was among the vets adding one stitch to the Illinois patch, while celebrating Bin Laden’s demise.
“With everything that’s happened, its one step toward a major victory for all of us as Americans, absolutely,” he said.
The Warriors’ Watch Riders also helped unfold the flag and carry it into the ceremony.
Firefighters from all over the state participated in patching an Illinois flag on the bottom portion of the national flag.
“Basically, it’s one of the very few things that we can fix after 9/11,” said New York firefighter Jimmy Sands. “We could rebuild skyscrapers, but we can’t bring back the people that we lost. This flag is actually going to be rebuilt back into its original flag format, and that’s part of what’s going on here today, with the Illinois state patch being sewn in, that’s just one more state, and all the firefighters and military and civilians that came here – they actually get to take part in rebuilding the Trade Center. Everybody gets one stitch.”
The flag will be dedicated this year at the 10th anniversary of 9/11. It will then be placed in at the 9/11 Memorial Museum at Ground Zero.
For right now, the flag will make its way south to Kentucky, where there will be a ceremony this weekend.