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Henrico man's 'Freedom Flag' will honor 9/11 victims during Virginia ceremony

Posted at 6:11 PM, Sep 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-09 18:27:39-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- A Henrico restaurant owner’s flag, designed to honor and remember those who died on September 11, 2001, will be presented at the Virginia War Memorial this weekend. The memorial, on South Belvidere Street in Richmond, will host the 2021 Commonwealth’s Patriot Day Ceremony at 11 a.m. on Saturday -- the 20th anniversary of the worst attack on U.S. soil.

“We now have the names of 162 Virginians who have died in service to the country from two wars that were spurred by the events of September 11,” Virginia War Memorial Director Dr. Clay Mountcastle said.

A new symbol will soon join the flags and names of the Virginians who made the ultimate sacrifice to our country. The days following the 9/11 attacks, Richard Melito sketched a rendering of a flag on a napkin inside of his Henrico restaurant. He drew 10 symbols that help described the events of that horrific day.

“It’s a big task to overcome, but take into consideration all the firefighters, and police, and rescue and military and everybody that was involved - it deserves to be remembered,” Melito described.

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Lawmakers also passed legislation making the Freedom Flag Virginia’s official symbol of 9/11 remembrance.

Melito’s non-profit, the Freedom Flag Foundation, has since worked to educate children in schools about the events of 9/11.

“Part of the goal of this ceremony is to show the generational impact and how those of us remember that day very clearly have tried to explain those events of that day to that generation,” Mountcastle stated.

Speakers of Saturday’s ceremony will also include Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam. The public is encouraged to attend.

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The meaning of the Freedom Flag is illustrated by the colors and symbols of the flag, including:

  • An old glory blue background symbolizing all Americans united together around the principle of freedom.
  • A white star symbolizing all who’ve lived and died for the cause of freedom.
  • Five white bars symbolizing the Pentagon and the organized protection of our freedom.
  • A top old glory red stripe symbolizing the blood shed by those who perished at the Pentagon and the crew and passengers killed on American Airlines Flight 77.
  • Two broad old glory red stripes symbolizing the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center and the blood shed by those who perished at the World Trade Center and on American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175.
  • A bottom old glory red stripe symbolizing the blood shed by the crew and passengers who perished on United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
  • Three white stripes symbolizing the first responders who worked tirelessly during and after the terrorist attacks.

For more information on the project and the Freedom Flag Foundation, click here.