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Marine Corps Recruiting Command

Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.

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US flag sent to Afghanistan from Ground Zero

By Staff Sgt Matt Olivolo | | November 29, 2001

NEW YORK -- The U.S. flag represents the strongest nation in the world and has recently become more than just symbol of our country.  Since the Sept. 11 terrorists' attacks, the American Flag has been displayed on just about everything from cars to buildings and even clothing.

After the destruction of the twin towers, American flags were displayed on buildings surrounding the World Trade Center.  One rather large flag was draped on one of the surviving buildings near the World Trade Center.

"The flag was all bunched up and looked like it was going to fall off the building, so I decided to grab it and move it to a better location," explained Lt. John Durkin, NYPD Emergency Service Unit.  "Some of our [NYPD] guys signed the flag and put the names of some of our fallen brothers.  Three of whom were former Marines."

Soon family members of victims of the trade center tragedy signed the flag as well as New York City firefighters, Port Authority Police Officers and many others.  There were sentimental messages like, "For my sons... Joe and John Vigiono ... they gave their lives doing what they loved - helping others God bless them and all of 'their' brothers."  Another message read, "I hope this flag is the last thing Osama bin Laden sees as he takes his last breath."

Durkin, a former sergeant in the Marines, said that people from all around the tri-state area drove down to the site just to read the messages.

"Some people would read the flag and just start breaking down in tears," said Durkin.  "We're honored the Marine Corps is sending this flag that has so much meaning to the Marines overseas in Afghanistan."

The flag will be sent and presented to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) based out of Camp Lejeune, N.C. 

But before being sent to the region, the Marines from 1st Marine Corps District, Public Affairs New York and 2nd Battalion, 25th Marines had a chance to show it off to the world via CBS television.  While most of the Eastern seaboard of the United States was just beginning the day, the flag, the Marines, and New York City emergency personnel were featured on "The Early Show." 

Their message to America was a simple one:

"This will help bring closure to some of the families and friends of the victims as well as provide some motivation for our Marines deployed overseas," explained Maj. Dave Anderson, of the New York Public Affairs Office.  "This will remind the Marines in Afghanistan why they are there and will help personalize their operations."

Many former Marines who are now police officers and firemen in New York still carry on that devotion to duty and wish Godspeed to all Marines deployed in the theater of operations.

"All of us former Marines want our boys overseas to know we back the Corps 100 percent," exclaimed Durkin.  "We know that since the Marines on are on the job the terrorists responsible for this disaster will pay.  I wish I could go back on active duty. However since I can't, I am confident today's Marines will take care of business.  We want our Marines to get the job done right and come home safely."

Many police officers would like to have the flag permanently displayed once returned from overseas near the future trade center memorial.

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