Ground Zero flag comes to TU
50 hometown heroes held the flag recovered from Ground Zero while the national anthem blared in the background at Towson’s first home football game Saturday.
This was the heart of Hometown Heroes’ day, which memorialized the tragedy of 9/11, as well as members of the Baltimore County Fire and Police Departments, Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs, Maryland National Guard, the Wounded Warrior Project, Fort Meade and Towson University Veterans Services.
“We started Hometown Heroes’ day with the football games and wanted to make it bigger,” Michael Harris, the senior associate director of athletics said. “What would be a more perfect way to represent America, especially since it was just the eleventh anniversary of 9/11?”
Students have personal ties to the Sept. 11 attacks.
“My aunt was in one of the planes,” sophomore computer science major Evan Lipshultz said. “It’s important because they [firefighters and police officers] really fought. It’s a good idea to bring the flag to the game to spread awareness and memories. I think it’s really important to remember all of the people that died there.”
Some students feel that remembering Sept. 11 can stop other tragic events.
“I think it’s important because it’s such a big part of our history even though it’s so recent,” sophomore speech pathology major Emily Metelski said. “History repeats itself.”
Harris said that the historic flag in the ceremony was damaged in the World Trade Center and has stopped around the country where different people add a piece and stitch the flag back together.
Martin Luther King’s Jr.’s family recently added a piece, and members of Congress stitched in a piece of the flag that was in Abraham Lincoln’s burial.
Towson also added a patch to the flag.
“It’s going to be a special day and is going to bring the community together to recognize everyone who was affected by Sept. 11,” Harris said. “Sept. 11 is a day everyone remembers. They remember exactly where they were when it happened.”
Harris said that he worked with Group Sales and Promotions leader Stephen Toutsis and fan development intern Sean Phelan to bring the symbolic flag to Towson.
“We were thinking of getting an American flag shaped like America that would cover the whole football field for Hometown Heroes’ Day,” he said. “But we thought [the flag from Ground Zero] would make the national anthem much better, so we reached out to a group to get the 9/11 flag here instead.”
Harris said that it was also an honor to recognize the heroes.
“It is a great honor to have them here as part of the program,” Harris said.
At the end of the game, the flag was on display inside the stadium along with Humvees from the National Guard and an antique fire truck, to teach Towson students a little more about the jobs of the people who carried the flag onto the field.
“I think anything that brings attention to Sept. 11 it is important,” Metelski said. “We shouldn’t forget and we should keep talking about it.”
Harris said he was personally affected by the tragic event.
“A friend of mine actually died in the towers,” he said. “For me, personally, it will be a moment I will remember. It will help me remember her.”