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Utah heroes help stitch 9/11 flag back together

By Jennifer Stagg  |  Posted Aug 2nd, 2011 @ 9:58pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — A massive American flag found at the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11, 2001, is on display at the Utah State Capitol. Tuesday, some Utahns had the opportunity to sew a stitch on the flag.


They made some big bombs, but not big enough to blow the smile off my face.

–Master Sgt. Gordon Ewell


It's tattered and worn, a little worse for the wear: the massive flag found amid the rubble at ground zero, torn apart by the terrorist attacks that claimed so many lives.

The flag is now held together by stitches, hand-sewn bits and pieces from other flags. It represents our country's strength and resilience &38212; just like a soldier who struggled to pull a needle and thread through the stars and stripes.

Master Sgt. Gordon Ewell led 59 combat missions. Six times, a roadside bomb hit a vehicle he was riding in. The strong, strapping man who left for Iraq came home battered, and badly injured.

"It's been a long road," Ewell said. "I had a traumatic brain injury, broken neck, I lost an eye, I have lost my hearing."


My son, Cpl. Matthew Reed Smith, was killed in 2005 in Iraq. I'm so proud to be an American, and I'm proud to stand next to one that just took so much.

–Colleen Parkin


Ewell has severe neurological damage, but through it all his pride for his country hasn't wavered.

"They made some big bombs, but not big enough to blow the smile off my face," he said. "(This is the) greatest country on the face of the planet."

Ewell made great sacrifices for his country, as did Colleen Parkin, the mourning mother who stayed by his side during Tuesday's ceremony.

"My son, Cpl. Matthew Reed Smith, was killed in 2005 in Iraq," Parkin said. "I'm so proud to be an American, and I'm proud to stand next to one that just took so much. I think it's great to be an American."

The flag now heads to Montana, where it will be on display at the Montana State Capitol.

Email: jstagg@ksl.com

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