JOPLIN, Mo. (Army News Service, Sept. 12, 2011) -- Soldiers, first responders and citizens came together to thread the last stitches into the National 9/11 Flag as part of a September 11 Memorial Service at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, the last stop on a 50-state tour before the banner returns to New York City and the World Trade Center site.

While noting the passing of 10 years since the United States was attacked on September 11, the occasion was met with a sense of renewal. The flag, tattered in the carnage of the World Trade Center and now near-restored, was testimony to such.

"It's an incredible honor to be here," said Lane Roberts, the Joplin chief of police, who told those in attendance that the meaning of 9/11 is not found in acts of terrorism, but in the resiliency of the human spirit during and after tragedy.

"September 11 became America's moment to discover what it means to be free, courageous and united," said Roberts. "This flag, like our nation, has been restored and preserved."

Jeff Parness, founder and executive director of the New York Says Thank You Foundation, the group responsible for the restoration of the flag that once stood across the street from the World Trade Center towers, echoed the sentiment.

"What we do is about 9/12," said Parness, of his group's mission to bring the destroyed flag back to the World Trade Center site, stitched back together by the hands of first responders, Soldiers, government officials and survivors of disaster.

Joplin, the site of the nation's deadliest single tornado on May 22 of this year, was deemed the perfect place to end the restoration tour.

"This community is about May 23, about love and compassion," said Parness, of those who performed rescue and recovery operations after the twister and of those who have worked to rebuild the city as volunteers. "It shows the world who you really are."

Following a formal commemoration of 9/11, several in attendance added the last stitches to the flag. Among those were first responders, citizens hard-hit by the tornado and members of Joplin's 203rd Engineer Battalion, Missouri National Guard. Those Soldiers were among those who responded to the twister within hours of it hitting their home area.

"It's great to be able to recognize 9/12 on 9/11," said Maj. Michael Brown, the battalion's administrative officer. "It's great to be a part of helping to restore New York, Joplin and the United States."

Roberts said the flag's last stitches coming from Joplin is fitting.

"This city, like this flag, displays courage, resiliency and unity," said Roberts.

Page last updated Tue September 13th, 2011 at 07:02