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Ground zero flag to be featured at 9/11 Patriot Day Celebration

091019patriotday

Former Elizabeth City Fire Chief Corey Mercer lays a wreath in memory of the 343 fire and first responder deaths suffered in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, at the Sam A. Twiford Veteran's Park at Twiford Funeral Home, at last year's Patriot Day Celebration.

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By Chris Day
Multimedia Editor

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

A 9/11 remembrance ceremony Wednesday will feature a national flag that once flew at Ground Zero in New York City.

The posting of the Ground Zero Flag will mark the first time the ensign has been flown at a ceremony in North Carolina, according to event organizers.

Twiford Funeral Home’s second annual Patriot Day Celebration begins at noon in the Sam A. Twiford Veterans Park at 405 E. Church St. The ceremony will feature a national flag that was posted over Ground Zero for several weeks during the clean-up work at the site of the fallen World Trade Center towers. That’s according to information provided by Twiford Funeral Home.

In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the American Eagle Flag Company donated the flag to the Port Authority Police Department, which raised the flag over Ground Zero. The Ground Zero Flag, and a marble cross that accompanying it, are dedicated to Joseph Navas, an officer with the PAPD who died when the towers collapsed, according to Twiford Funeral Home.

The Patriot Guard Riders in Virginia are the official caretakers of the GZ Flag Team, which includes the flag and a marble cross, said David Twiford, funeral home owner. Guard members will meet on their motorcycles at the Dismal Swamp Canal Welcome Center in South Mills and escort the flag and cross to the funeral home.

Representing the GZ Flag Team will be Michael Nugent, who will speak briefly and give guests a brief history of the flag.

Twiford worked about four months to get permission to include the flag and the cross in Wednesday’s ceremony, he said. He had to make a special request to use the flag in a ceremony hosted by his business. Typically the flag is approved for ceremonies and memorials, funerals and other veterans-related events, but not for commercial use.

After he explained to Patriot Guard Riders officials that the flag would be featured in a service in a veterans park named for his father, who was a World War II veteran, the organization agreed.

Wednesday also will mark the first time the GZ Flag Team will be featured in a ceremony in North Carolina, Twiford said.

Guests attending the ceremony should not confuse the flag for another U.S. flag that was captured in a popular photograph. In that photo, firefighters are seen raising what is now known as “the 9/11 flag” over the debris of the towers at Ground Zero. That flag is on display at the 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York, Twiford said.

Wednesday’s keynote speaker will be Harold G. Overstreet, a former Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps who retired in 1995.

According to Twiford Funeral Home, Overstreet is a native of Houston, Texas, who enlisted in the Marines in 1966. In April 1991, he was appointed 12th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps. His decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, among others.

Also scheduled to participate Wednesday are State Sen. Bob Steinburg, R-Chowan, and local band Out ‘N the Cold,which will perform the national anthem.

A posting of the colors and a wreath-laying ceremony will include local fire, EMS and law enforcement personnel. A U.S. Coast Guard honor guard team will retire the colors, and a benediction will conclude the ceremony.

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