Tuesday, July 29, 2014

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Port Authority Workers Restore Retired American Flag To Former Glory

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A retired flag is once again displaying its red, white and blue colors, thanks to the efforts of Port Authority workers. NY1's John Schiumo filed the following story.

To remember lives lost, an old flag with renewed spirit was sewn together by Port Authority employees to inspire. It's a symbol of hope.

"It brings a tear to your eye," PA employee Tony Bello said Monday. "I'm touched because we really did put a lot of work into this flag, sewing it up by hand, and it means a lot to me to see it flying. Hopefully people coming down to this facility see that and it gives them a little sense of pride."

The 60 X 90, 400 pound flag last flew at the George Washington Bridge in 1988. Tattered and missing stars, the flag was scheduled to be burned as part of its official retirement ceremony.

Then, someone had an idea.

"All of a sudden it just clicked and we knew what we had to do. We had to get that flag ready to fly as a symbol of hope for all of us who work at the bridge that the loved ones that we've lost can perhaps be found alive," said Steve Napolitano, the general manager of the George Washington Bridge.

"We took the flag, laid it down on a piece of plastic in our maintenance garage and began sewing it, washing it, patching it, painting it. Guys went home to get their wives sewing machines, and we probably burned out three sewing machines during this operation," added PA worker Jerry DelTufo.

Fellow PA employee Chris Bonanno added, "We restored it. We restored it because we wanted to let the rescuers that are going in know that our hearts and minds are with them."

There were 2,000 Port Authority employees in Tower One the morning of the attack. 74 of those employees are now among the dead and the missing.

The flag adorns P.S./I.S. 89 on Chambers Street: an old flag with renewed spirit.

- John Schiumo

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