Raising the Flag at Ground Zero


The horrific attacks of September 11, 2001 forever changed the landscape of the Manhattan skyline and life in America as we knew it.


©2001 The Record, (Bergen County, N.J.). Thomas E. Franklin, Staff Photographer

But in the chaos and rubble where the World Trade Center no longer stood, Record photographer Thomas E. Franklin captured an unforgettable image of hope -- three firefighters raising the American flag.

Standing defiantly against the gray and white landscape of devastation, these dust-covered men and the vivid red, white, and blue of Old Glory instantly became a symbol of American patriotism.

The Record's photo of these three heroic rescuers - Brooklyn-based firefighters George Johnson of Rockaway Beach, Dan McWilliams of Long Island (both from Ladder 157), and Billy Eisengrein of Staten Island (Rescue 2) - also became a global message that life, and America, would go on.

The photo, which appeared Sept. 12 in The Record, has since graced the pages of many other newspapers as well as national newsmagazines. Network television has repeatedly displayed the photo during its round-the-clock disaster coverage, comparing it to the famous image of Marines raising the flag on Iwo Jima during World War II.

Franklin, an eight-year veteran of The Record, took the photo late in the afternoon of Sept. 11, after spending hours at the scene. He was walking toward the debris of the World Trade Center when he spotted the firefighters.

"The shot immediately felt important to me," Franklin said. "It said something to me about the strength of the American people and about the courage of all the firefighters who, in the face of this horrible disaster, had a job to do in battling the unimaginable."



Much has been written about the flag shown in the photograph. Here are some of the more common questions asked about the flag:

Q: Did the flag come from the World Trade Center?
A: No. The flag came off a near-by yacht docked behind the World Trade Center. Firefighter Dan McWilliams from Ladder 157 spotted the flag and flagpole and became inspired to move the flag and flagpole to West Street where rescue crews were desperately working. By September 13, the photo had already received so much attention that the public started asking about the both the flag and firefighters. Record Staff Writer Jeannine Clegg was assigned to get the background on the flag raising and her story was subsequently published in The Record on September 14.

Q: Is the flag American made?
A: Yes. It was originally manufactured by Eder Flag Manufacturing located in Oakcreek, Wisconsin.

Q: Who owned the flag?
A: The flag came off of a 130-ft. yacht named " Star of America, " owned by Shirley Dreifus of the Majestic Star company in New York. According to an article that appeared in USA Today on January 10, 2002, Ms. Dreifus noticed her flag was missing when she came to inspect the boat after the attack. People at the marina witnessed the firefighters taking the flag and were able to inform Ms. Dreifus that it was her flag that had apparently been raised in the now-famous photo.

Q: Where did the flag go afterwards?
A: Because of the photograph, the flag immediately became a symbol of the indomitable American spirit. Still smelling of smoke, the flag was immediately transported to the crew of the USS Theodore Roosevelt en route to Afghanistan. It was then shared with six other military ships before returning to New York City. On Monday, April 1, 2002, the flag was raised formally in front of New York's City Hall. All three of the firefighters who had originally raised the flag at the World Trade on September 11 were in attendance in places of honor. After flying over City Hall for a week, the flag is rotating among various city police and firehouses. It is transported in a case crafted by the Navy.


(Source: North Jersey Media Group, Inc. © 2004 North Jersey Media Group Inc.)




Mr. Franklin's photograph has inspired other artisans as well. At the Brockport, New York Fire Museum this beautiful memorial carved from White Oak by Brockport artist Richard Kron portrays the three firefighters raising the flag along side an actual steel girder and piece of terrazzo marble tile from the World Trade Center which were donated for the memorial.


"Raising the Flag" Oil on Canvas painted 3 months after that tragic day by Mike Hamblin @ HamblinArt.Com

This painting was donated to the Knights of Columbus in Butte, Montana. It is the centerpiece of a memorial dedicated to those men and women in uniform who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. The memorial was created by Bernie Boyle and Johnny Paull, two KC members and firemen.
Nothing else needs to be said about this.
Let us never forget



Click this image for an enlarged view Click this image for an enlarged view Click this image for an enlarged view
Images of additional works from artisans whom were deeply affected and inspired by that fateful day in September are circulating on the web. Here are a few:


Angels of Comfort - Click this image for an enlarged view Angel with Fireman Ice Sculpture - Click this image for an enlarged view Iwo Jima and Ground Zero Collage - Click this image for an enlarged view
The Rolling Memorial

Inspired by a song, John and Amy Holmgren's Rolling Memorial was created to honor the many victims of September 11th.

John Holmgren said he got the idea to create a memorial to the victims of September 11, after hearing country singer Darryl Worley’s song “Have You Forgotten.”

Holmgren and his wife are the owner, operators of Rosepath Transportation of Shafer and decided that their memorial would be a show truck.








John and Amy Holmgren's Rolling Memorial Visits Ground Zero

Tribute Home Page

Flight 11 | Flight 175 | Flight 77 | Flight 93

The Pentagon | World Trade Center | 343 Firefighters

Never Forget | Raising the Flag at Ground Zero

Heroes Presentation | Listen to the Firefighters Prayer

Ten Years Later: 13 WHAM Tribute to Two Local Heroes

The names of the victims listed in these pages and the personal information included next to their names is accurate to the best of our knowledge at the time these lists were compiled. We make no claim or guarantee as to the complete accuracy of the data. Further, we wish to credit the appropriate sources for information and photographs so if you should find an error please bring it to our attention by emailing the relevant information along with your personal information to the Click here to email us: so we may make the appropriate changes. We apologize for any errors in these tributes - the data was collected and compiled over a period of several months from multiple sources on the Internet and circulated emails which increases the possibility of errors. Known sources for the information and photographs contained in these tribute pages include: CNN, ABC News, CBS News, Fox News, Emails, September 11th Victims Association, North Jersey Media Group, Inc., The History Channel, Reuters the AP and a special thanks to Jim Byers authorizing the use of his Flash Presentation "Blood of Heroes".