Press Release Article
PORT AUTHORITY STAFF METICULOUSLY RESTORES ONE OF WORLD’S LARGEST FREE-FLYING AMERICAN FLAGS
Date: Sep 23, 2001
Press Release Number: 137-2001
Mammoth Flag to be Unfurled Overlooking WTC Site
at 9:30 a.m. on September 24
Note: Media wishing to cover the flag unfurling should assemble at the corner of Canal and West streets at 9 a.m. on Monday, September 24. A Port Authority bus will shuttle media to and from the site.
More than a dozen Port Authority employees have been working around the clock to restore one of the world’s largest free-flying American flags as a show of their patriotism following the World Trade Center tragedy.
The flag will be unfurled at 9:30 a.m. on Monday a few hundred yards from the site of the World Trade Center, destroyed in the September 11 terrorist attacks.
George Washington Bridge maintenance employees discovered the gigantic old flag in a storage room on the New Jersey side of the bridge. Working day and night, on their hands and knees, the bridge employees carefully repaired the flag, which was spread out on the floor of a bridge maintenance garage, finally returning Old Glory to its former glory. Bridge maintenance staff sewed back tattered stars, painted faded stripes, and installed grommets from which the flag can again be hung.
The 60-by-90-foot flag, retired in 1988, flew at the George Washington Bridge for seven years before it was replaced by a newer flag of similar size.
“This horrific incident has unified the Port Authority family like never before,” said Ken Philmus, the Port Authority’s Director of Tunnels, Bridges and Terminals. “Since September 11, when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center, all of our employees, particularly those assigned outside the Trade Center, have looked for meaningful ways they could help. This project gave our George Washington Bridge staff a way to channel their emotions into a project that expresses their feelings of grief and patriotism, and shows our men and women in the trenches that they care.”
Steve Napolitano, General Manager of the George Washington Bridge and Bus Station, said, “Our people at the bridge know they are making a big contribution to the region by maintaining our vital transportation links. But they also wanted to do something more.
“We felt very isolated at the bridge. We cried, and we tried to keep the bridge running as efficiently as possible. But this project gave us a way to express our solidarity with our fallen colleagues. It’s something we really needed to do,” Napolitano said.
During its heyday, the flag was hung from the New Jersey tower of the George Washington Bridge during holidays and special occasions.