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ABOUT THE PHOTO


2001 The Record, (Bergen County, N.J.). Thomas E. Franklin, Staff Photographer

September 11, 2001 - the end of the world as we knew it.
In the aftermath of the attacks, amid the chaos and rubble where the World Trade Center twin towers once stood, Record photographer Thomas E. Franklin captured an unforgettable image of hope - three New York City firefighters raising the American flag. This poignant photo has resonated in the hearts and minds of Americans and people around the world

Standing defiantly against the gray and white landscape of devastation, these dust-covered men and the vivid red, white and blue of Old Glory instantly became a symbol of American patriotism.

The Record's photo of these three heroic rescuers - 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) - also became a global message that life, and America, would go on.

The photo, which appeared Sept. 12 in The Record, has since graced the pages of many other newspapers as well as national newsmagazines. Network television has repeatedly displayed the photo during its round-the-clock disaster coverage, comparing it to the famous image of Marines raising the flag on Iwo Jima during World War II.

Franklin, an eight-year veteran of The Record, took the photo late in the afternoon of Sept. 11, after spending hours at the scene. He was walking toward the debris of the World Trade Center when he spotted the firefighters.

"The shot immediately felt important to me," Franklin said. "It said something to me about the strength of the American people and about the courage of all the firefighters who, in the face of this horrible disaster, had a job to do in battling the unimaginable."

NOTE: The Fund is offering free copies of the firefighter photo signed by Thomas E. Franklin to family members and surviving victims of 9/11. To get your photo, click here. Please include your name, the name of the deceased (if any), your relationship to the deceased, your phone number, and address.

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ABOUT THE FLAG
Much has been written about the flag shown in the photograph. Here are some of the more common questions asked about the flag:

  • Did the flag come from the World Trade Center?
    No. The flag came off a near-by yacht docked behind the World Trade Center. Firefighter Dan McWilliams from Ladder 157 spotted the flag and flagpole and became inspired to move the flag and flagpole to West Street where rescue crews were desperately working. By September 13, the photo had already received so much attention that the public started asking about the both the flag and firefighters. Record Staff Writer Jeannine Clegg was assigned to get the background on the flag raising and her story was subsequently published in The Record on September 14.

  • Is the flag American made?
    Yes. It was originally manufactured by Eder Flag Manufacturing located in Oakcreek, Wisconsin.

  • Who owned the flag?
    The flag came off of a 130-ft. yacht named " Star of America, " owned by Shirley Dreifus of the Majestic Star company in New York. According to an article that appeared in USA Today on January 10, 2002, Ms. Dreifus noticed her flag was missing when she came to inspect the boat after the attack. People at the marina witnessed the firefighters taking the flag and were able to inform Ms. Dreifus that it was her flag that had apparently been raised in the now-famous photo.

  • Were they the original owners of the flag?
    No. The flag and yacht were sold to Majestic Star in 1997. Previously, both were owned by Mr. Dudley Webb, owner of the Jamestown Resort and Marina in Jamestown, KY. According to a story by Gina Kinslow, printed in the Glasgow Daily Times (Kenutcky) on January 20, 2002: Mr. Webb kept a box of flags on the yacht from the Eder Flag Manufacturing. Mr. Webb purchased the flag from Paul Edwards, a Barren County, KY, resident, who is a manufacturer's representative for Eder Flag Manufacturing.

  • Where did the flag go afterwards?
    Because of the photograph, the flag immediately became a symbol of the indomitable American spirit. Still smelling of smoke, the flag was immediately transported to the crew of the USS Theodore Roosevelt en route to Afghanistan. It was then shared with six other military ships before returning to New York City. On Monday, April 1, 2002, the flag was raised formally in front of New York's City Hall. All three of the firefighters who had originally raised the flag at the World Trade on September 11 were in attendance in places of honor. After flying over City Hall for a week, the flag is rotating among various city police and firehouses. It is transported in a case crafted by the Navy.

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    AWARDS
    The photograph has become an icon to the American public. Both the photographer and the newspaper are humbled and gratified that is has inspired the American public in the face of disaster. On March 11, 2002, the United States Postal Service issued a new stamp, Heroes of 2001, which featured the photograph and honored the men and women who participated in the rescue efforts on September 11, 2001. Because of its ability to touch so many so deeply, the photograph has received numerous awards, including.

  • 2001 NYC Headliners Club
    1st Place Spot News

  • 2001 Sigma Delta Chi Award (SDX), by Society of Professional Journalists
    Photo of the Year, Spot News

  • 2002 Clarion Award
    1st Place, Major News & Event Category

    2002 International Association of Fire Fighters
  • First Prize Media Awards Contest

  • September 2001 Newseum Photojournalist of the Month

  • September 2001 AP Member Showcase Photo of the Month
    Associated Press Managing Editor's Association

  • September 2001 Knight-Ridder Photo of the Month

  • October 2001 Editor & Publisher Photo of the Year
    Grand Prize Winner of Annual Photography Contest

  • 2001 AP Member Showcase Photo of the Year
    Associated Press Managing Editor's Association

  • 2001 National Headliners Club
    Best in Show / co-winner with David Handschuh

  • POYi 2001 (Pictures of the Year International)
    Award of Excellence, Sept. 11th News Category

  • NPPA 2001 Photos of The Year Contest
    First Place, Attack on America Feature Category

  • NPPA 2001 Northern Short Course Contest
    First Place, 9/11 Feature Category

  • SND 2001 Contest (Society for News Design)
    Award of Excellence, Attack on the U.S. Photos

  • 2002 Pulitzer Prize Finalist, Breaking News Photography
    Thomas E. Franklin for his memorable photograph of three firefighters raising an American flag amidst the wreckage of the World Trade Center towers.

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