Conservatively Speaking

State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.

Famous flag still missing for almost 10 years

"It's a piece of history. I don't think the average citizen knows it's missing."
Shirley Dreifus, referring to an American flag that flew at Ground Zero.

September 11, 2001.

Six hours after the Twin Towers were destroyed by terrorist murderers, a New York firefighter walked past a yacht docked in the Hudson River owned by Shirley Dreifus and her husband. Spotting a flag, firefighter Dan McWilliams yanked it from the boat and proceeded towards Ground Zero, the site of the massacre. McWilliams was joined on the way by two other firefighters, George Johnson and Billy Eisengrein.

When the three arrived at Ground Zero, they found a long pole, attached Old Glory, and raised the Stars and Stripes, unaware that photographer Thomas Franklin of The Record newspaper in Bergen County, New Jersey was capturing the moment with a picture that gained fame worldwide.


A representative at Eder Flag manufacturing in Oak Creek, Wisconsin confirms the flag was manufactured at Eder and sold to Shirley Dreifus.

Thomas Franklin’s photo instantly was compared to another famous flag-raising, the Battle of Iwo Jima.


This incredible story took a strange twist on April 1, 2002. USA TODAY reports:

“The three firemen were guests of honor as the flag was run up the (NY) City Hall pole. But Dan McWilliams, one of the firemen, said softly, ‘That's not the flag.” Bill Kelly, the firefighters' lawyer, stared at him. ‘That's much bigger than the one we put up,’ McWilliams explained. Kelly says he looked at the other two firemen: ‘They said, No, that's not it.' The men said nothing more, and the flag flew at City Hall for a week before beginning a tour of police stations and firehouses. It was an impostor.

The flag in the photograph taken on 9/11 by Thomas Franklin of The Record of Bergen County, N.J., was 3 feet by 5 feet. The one raised at City Hall — and flown at Yankee Stadium and on warships and once destined for the Smithsonian — is 5 by 8.

How did the flags get switched? Did someone replace the smaller with the larger at Ground Zero? If so,why? And what happened to the original?

Was the first flag replaced because it was too small? Was it lowered when it began to rain and innocently switched with another flag found at the site? Did someone in the fire department not want to let the Navy borrow it? Once the photo appeared on the front page of the New York Post on Sept. 13, did a thief realize its value? Was Ground Zero in the week after the attack still sufficiently chaotic to allow someone to take the flag unnoticed?”

Read the entire USA TODAY article.

Shirley Dreifus, the owner of the yacht that produced the famous flag writes on her web site:

“Nearly every day we remember 9/11 and how our lives changed in such a short time. Not only did we work in the World Trade Center, my husband and I met there over 30 years ago and lived only two blocks away. On 9/11, we lost our office and we were evacuated from our home. But we consider ourselves fortunate. We overslept so we are still here to remember. For us, the only good memory that came out of 9/11 was the raising of the flag from our boat, the Star of America, over Ground Zero. That moment shown in the by-now famous photo, gave us as much hope as the rest of America. You can imagine our dismay when we became aware that this historic flag was missing.”

The Dreifus’ plan to establish a not-for-profit group to find the flag.

Flag Day is sandwiched between Memorial Day and Independence Day and celebrated June 14, every year. Flag Day is inspired by a Wisconsin teacher.

Nineteen-year old Bernard Cigrand entered his Waubeka, Wisconsin classroom one day during 1885 and placed a 10-inch American Flag into the inkwell of a student’s desk. Cigrand then gave his students a simple assignment: Write an essay about the meaning of the flag.

Cigrand was passionate about the Stars and Stripes and desired to make his students just as proud. What began as a class project blossomed into a full-blown crusade to have an annual nationwide observance. Why June 14? The history novice preferred June 14, the day in 1777 the Flag was raised for the very first time to dedicate a brand new nation. Cigrand is considered today to be the Father of Flag Day.

How strong is the symbolism of our great flag? Section 8 of the U.S. Flag Code says, “No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America. The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing.”

George Washington proclaimed, "We take the stars from Heaven, the red from our mother country, separating it by white stripes, thus showing that we have separated from her, and the white stripes shall go down to posterity representing Liberty."

On Flag Day, and other days as well, display your flag proudly and appropriately. Pause to think about the enormous significance of the Stars and Stripes and the many heroic Americans that gave so much defending its honor so that we may live in the greatest, freest country in the world.

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