JOPLIN, Mo. —
People affected by a patchwork of disasters around the nation have stitched their wounds up in the 9/11 flag, which has come full circle for a handful of Joplin residents.
Joplin volunteers who visited Minot, N.D., last week during a “Joplin on Fire for Service” trip attended a ceremony in Minot where the flag they helped sew last year was displayed.
Brooklyn Jusino, 7, a second-grader at Duenweg Elementary School, was the first person in Joplin to sew on the flag when it was brought here in September 2011 — 10 years after the terrorist attacks. She is named after the New York borough where her father previously lived.
“It means so much to me because I stitched the flag,” she said of seeing it again in Minot.
She was caught in the May 22, 2011, tornado at the Wal-Mart Supercenter at 1515 S. Range Line Road.
“I told my Mom before we went on the (Minot) trip it’s amazing how nature works. It’s amazing how we survived. God was watching over us and everything else,” she said. “It’s just amazing.”
“It was pretty emotional,” said Stephanie Goad, of Joplin, one of 17 people who, like Jusino, visited Minot in a show of support for the recovery of that city. More than 11,000 residents in Minot were affected by a flood that damaged much of that town soon after Joplin’s tornado.
The 9/11 flag was in Joplin last September.
“When they came to Joplin last year, we got to put stitches in it. Our emotions were still raw when it came, so it was neat to see it again knowing it had come to Joplin,” said Goad.
The flag was found frayed in the rubble of the Twin Towers after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. It was flown at the site for about a month when the contractor in charge of clearing the disaster site removed it and put it in storage. It stayed there seven years, when it was taken to Greensburg, Kan., after a massive tornado destroyed that town. The flag was sent there as a symbol of hope and resilience.
Residents there began stitching the ragged remains of the flag and it since has been on a national journey, sent to cities that have suffered other tragedies or disasters or in honor of military heroes.
The flag has been stitched by soldiers and others who survived the shooting at Fort Hood, Texas; and by World War II veterans on the deck of the USS Missouri in Pearl Harbor. On President Lincoln’s Birthday, a piece of the flag that Abraham Lincoln was laid on when he was shot at Ford’s Theater was stitched into it as well.
“When we were in Joplin, that was the official end of the restoration,” where the edges of the flag were squared again, said Jeff Parness, spokesperson of the New York Says Thank You Foundation, which has circulated the flag. The flag is eventually bound for display in the 9/11 museum when that museum is finished.
“Since Joplin, the flag has been displayed at a handful of places,” several related to Wounded Warriors projects, Parness said.
“The most significant place was a surprise for us and something not expected,” Parness said. He said New York foundation flag bearers were given threads from the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key during the War of 1812 to write the national anthem.
“In preparation for the bicentennial of the War of 1812, they made a donation of threads from that flag, which were stitched into the 9/11 flag on flag day, June 14,” Parness said. “They gave us three threads from the flag that actually flew at Fort McHenry,” where Key watched the banner wave during the battle. “So it literally has completed the emotional journey of the flag becoming the modern version of the Star Spangled Banner,” Parness said.
“It just gives you chills to see it again,” Goad said.
In remembrance today of the 9/11 anniversary, now called “Patriot Day,” U.S. flags will lowered to half staff.
Patriot Day also has become a day of volunteer service to share the American spirit of kindness born from the act of terrorism that struck the nation 11 years ago and to honor those protecting the country, including firefighters and police officers.
Joplin schools have a number of activities planned today, including:
• Pupils of West Central Elementary School, 1001 W. Seventh St.; McKinley School, 610 S. Forest Ave.; and East Middle School, 7501 E. 26th St., will participate in “Operation Goody Bag,” coordinated by Missouri Southern State University. Bags will be decorated and letters written to soldiers to send goody bags from home.
• Columbia Elementary, 610 W. “F” St. will have different activities for each grade level including making cards for residents of Messenger Towers and volunteering at Life House, 516 N. Wall Ave.
• Emerson Elementary, 1301 S. Duquesne Road, will hold a penny drive for the Joplin Humane Society and Children’s Haven.
• Kelsey Norman, 1323 E. 28th St., will hold a penny drive and a gift card collection for a former Kelsey Norman family who lost their home during Hurricane Irene.
• Cecil Floyd, 2201 W. 24th St., will have a penny drive for people affected by Hurricane Irene and will be host for Grandparents’ Day.
• A canned food drive for Crosslines Churches will be held at the high school campuses at 310 W. Eighth St. and 101 N. Range Line Road.
A Patriot Day parade is to be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday in downtown Neosho.