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National Flag Project Showcases Post-9/11 Compassion

Evening Edition

This spring marks the first year that middle and high school history classes around the country are required to teach students about what happened on Sept. 11, 2001.

Organizers of the 9/12 Generation Project hope to bring the memory of that day from community to community by sharing an American flag that hung just south of where the World Trade Center once stood. The flag, according to the group, is not just a symbol of the country. It's a symbol of resilience and compassion.

The flag was removed from its place in New York City seven years after two planes flew into the World Trade Center, killing thousands. Survivors of other disasters, both natural and man-made, worked together to stitch back together the tattered fabric.

Then it went on the road.

Jeff Parness, founder of the New York Says Thank You Foundation, took on the role of custodian of the flag.

He said that the tour across all 50 states has inspired more than just patriotism. It's also created a renewed sense of service and volunteerism.

His next goal is to grow the tour to include schools across the country as they begin to teach history lessons that include Sept. 11.

"This is a safe and positive way to talk to kids about 9/11 but get them active in service projects focused on the beauty and compassion that happened on 9/12," he said.

Fire Captain Eric Abney is the flag escort who survived the ravages of Hurrican Katrina. He said there's a common thread and the flag is a symbol of something much bigger.

"What you see is this country put back together stitch by stitch and it was (done by) just common, everyday people," Abney said.

The National 9/11 flag will be on public display in San Diego through Sunday at the Hilton Bayfront downtown next to the San Diego Convention Center.

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