Raising the Flag at Ground Zero

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Raising the Flag at Ground Zero

Raising the Flag at Ground Zero is a photograph by Thomas E. Franklin of The Record (Bergen County, NJ), taken on September 11, 2001. The picture shows three New York City firefighters raising the American flag at Ground Zero of the World Trade Center, following the September 11 attacks. The official names for the photograph used by The Record are Firefighters Raising Flag and Firemen Raising the Flag at Ground Zero.[1] The photo appeared on The Record front page on September 12, 2001. The paper also put it on the Associated Press wire and it appeared on the covers of several newspapers around the world. It has often been compared to the Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima photograph taken by Joe Rosenthal during World War II.


Franklin shot the photograph shortly after 5 p.m. with a telephoto lens. At this time, he was standing under a pedestrian walkway across the West Side Highway that connected the center to the World Financial Center, located at the northwest corner of the World Trade Center site. Franklin said the firefighters were about 150 yards (140 m) away from him and the debris was 100 yards (91 m) beyond that. They were about 20 feet (6.1 m) off the ground.

Franklin had hitched a ride on a tug boat across the Hudson River, arriving around noon after the towers had collapsed. He was with photographer James Nachtwey when he saw the firefighters.

The firefighters pictured were Brooklyn-based firefighters George Johnson of Rockaway Beach, Dan McWilliams of Long Island (both from Ladder 157), and Billy Eisengrein of Staten Island (Rescue 2).


The flag came from the yacht Star of America, owned by Shirley Dreifus of the Majestic Star, which was docked in the yacht basin in the Hudson River at the World Financial Center. McWilliams cut the yardarm off of the yacht with a K-Saw and then took the flag and its pole from the yacht to an evacuation area on the northwest side of the site. They found a pole about 20 feet (6.1 m) off the ground.

The flag has since disappeared. The city thought it had possession of the flag after the attack, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and George Pataki signed it, and it flew at the New York City Hall, Yankee Stadium, and on the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) during its service in the Mideast. However, when the flag's owner, Dreifus, prepared to formally donate the flag, it was discovered that there was a size discrepancy: while the yacht's flag measured four feet by six feet, the flag the city had in its possession measured five feet by eight feet.[2] As of 2014, the flag has yet to be found. Dreifus started a website[3] in an effort to get the flag back.[4] A 2013 CNN documentary film, The Flag, investigates the mystery of this missing 9/11 icon.[5]

Later use[edit]

White House photo of March 11, 2002, unveiling of Heroes stamp. From left Postmaster General John E. Potter; Firefighters Billy Eisengrein and George Johnson; George W. Bush; U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman, 5th District, N.Y. (who sponsored the stamp); Firefighter Dan McWilliams; and Record photographer Thomas E. Franklin, who took the photo featured on the stamp

The "Heroes 2001" stamp, USA Scott #B2, was unveiled on March 11, 2002 by President George W. Bush, in a ceremony attended by Franklin, Johnson, Eisengrein, and McWilliams. These stamps were semipostals: they had a purchase price (45¢) higher than their postage value (34¢), with the balance given to the Federal Emergency Management Agency's relief efforts. A special exception was thus made to the normal requirement by the United States Postal Service that subjects of stamps be deceased.

In December 2001, the New York City Fire Department unveiled plans for a statue based on the photograph to be placed at the Brooklyn headquarters. In an effort to be inclusive of all those who had been affected by the tragedy, the statue was to include black, white, and Hispanic firefighters. The change in ethnicity from the actual firefighters, all of whom are white, proved controversial enough that the statue was never built.

On November 5, 2007, a 40-foot (12 m) tall bronze monument based on the photograph called 'To Lift A Nation' and depicting three New York firefighters raising the flag over the ruins of the World Trade Center was dedicated at the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Park in Emmitsburg, Md.[6]

From another angle[edit]

The picture taken by Thomas E. Franklin is not to be confused with another picture of the same event but from a different angle by Ricky Flores for The Journal News. Flores also was able to get near Ground Zero on the day of the attacks and at around the same time that Franklin took his shot, Flores was able to get into a second story of a building on Canal Street with its glass shattered out and capture this picture.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "9/11 Photo Gallery". NorthJerseyimages. North Jersey Media Group. 2012. Retrieved 2013-07-17. 
  2. ^ Stars & Stripes Forever by Richard H. Schneider (2003) ISBN 0-06-052537-1 pages 160-165
  3. ^ http://www.findthe911flag.com/
  4. ^ a b Lucas, Dean (2007). "Famous Pictures Magazine - Raising the Flag at the WTC". Famous Pictures Magazine. Retrieved 2013-07-16. 
  5. ^ "‘THE FLAG’ Pursues the Mystery of a Missing 9/11 Icon". CNN. August 22, 2013. Retrieved 2013-08-29. 
  6. ^ http://mypetjawa.mu.nu/archives/190028.php

External links[edit]