The University of Arizona

A Nation United, Stitch by Stitch

By La Monica Everett-Haynes, University Communications | July 8, 2011

The UA hosted the National 9/11 Flag six months to the date and the hour of 19 people being wounded and some killed in the Jan. 8 shootings in Tucson.

The UA hosted a stitching event for the National 9/11 Flag on July 8. The flag, one of the largest to fly above Ground Zero after the Sept. 11 attacks, is traveling the nation where war veterans, disaster survivors, school children and others are helping to restore its stripes, one stitch at a time. (Photo by Patrick McArdle/UANews)
The UA hosted a stitching event for the National 9/11 Flag on July 8. The flag, one of the largest to fly above Ground Zero after the Sept. 11 attacks, is traveling the nation where war veterans, disaster survivors, school children and others are helping to restore its stripes, one stitch at a time. (Photo by Patrick McArdle/UANews)
The UA was the 36th stop in a national tour for the National 9/11 Flag. It is now bound for Washington, D.C. where, next week, members of Congress are scheduled to stitch the flag.
The UA was the 36th stop in a national tour for the National 9/11 Flag. It is now bound for Washington, D.C. where, next week, members of Congress are scheduled to stitch the flag.
To date, the flag has been stitched by survivors of the Sept. 11 attacks, the Columbine Massacre, Hurricane Katrina, the Ft. Hood shooting in Texas, the tornado in Greensburg, Kansas and also family members of Martin Luther King Jr., World War II veterans and newly naturalized citizens, among many others. The flag also contains threads from the flag that draped Abraham Lincoln after he was shot.
To date, the flag has been stitched by survivors of the Sept. 11 attacks, the Columbine Massacre, Hurricane Katrina, the Ft. Hood shooting in Texas, the tornado in Greensburg, Kansas and also family members of Martin Luther King Jr., World War II veterans and newly naturalized citizens, among many others. The flag also contains threads from the flag that draped Abraham Lincoln after he was shot.

Six months after the Jan. 8 shootings in Tucson – to the hour – hundreds of people gathered at University of Arizona's Centennial Hall to view and stitch the National 9/11 Flag. 

The Tucson visit and Friday ceremony were part of a nationwide tour of the flag led by The New York Says Thank You Foundation

The flag was located at 90 West St. and was destroyed in the aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center, said Jeff Parness, the foundation's founder and president. The foundation now is working to restore the flag, visibly stained by post-Sept. 11 soot, to its 13-stripe configuration. 

"It is a real honor to be here six months after Jan. 8 as we prepare for the 10-year anniversary of Sept. 11," Parness told about 250 people who gathered at Centennial Hall after the flag was displayed at the north side Safeway where the shooting occurred and also a local memorial. 

"This flag doesn't just tell the story of what happened on Sept. 11, but also what happened on Jan. 8," he said. "That's why we're here."

Once the flag is complete, it will become part of the collection at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, which is slated to be dedicated on Sept. 11. 

"This flag is a symbol of what this country represents, not only to Americans, to people around the world," said Ron Barber, district director for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' office. Barber, who is still recovering after having been shot in January, returned to work this week. 

Dr. Peter Rhee, a surgery professor at the UA College of Medicine's department of surgery, was invited to speak and also place a stitch in the flag during the ceremony.

Rhee, who spent two dozen years serving as a U.S. military surgeon, said the opportunity was an honor for both the UA and for the Tucson community.

The medical director of University Medical Center's Trauma and Critical Care, who helped treat the Jan. 8 shooting victims, Rhee also said: "This is so humbling and so much of an honor that we can take the time to honor our service members." 

Thus, each stitch is a sign of the nation's resilient spirit and a show of the national community's solidarity, Parness said.  

"There are so many stories," he said, explaining that war veterans, survivors of disasters, school children and other have stitched the flag. "Our goal is to make this flag whole again."

Contacts

Kathy Hawkes-Smith

UA Office of Community Relations

520-621-1438

smithkh@email.arizona.edu


Gary West

Northwest Fire District

520-887-1010, extension 2801

gwest@northwestfire.org