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The Flag of Honor remembering the sacrifices of Sept. 11

by 1st Lt. Larry van der Oord
Thunderbolt straff writer
Photo by 1st Lt. Larry van der Oord

Two members of the Bayshore Patriots look on as the Flag of Honor waves in the wind on Bayshore Boulevard. The flag, which MacDill received from the 18th Air Force, contains the names of all the victims from the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The 6th Air Mobility Wing presented the flag to the Bayshore Patriots July 15.

The 6th Air Mobility Wing commander brought a special gift with her July 15 when she teamed up with the Bayshore Patriots to wave flags along Bayshore Boulevard to show support for our country.

More than 50 Bayshore Patriots lined the corner of Bayshore and Bay to Bay Boulevards proudly showing off their red, white and blue when Col. Margaret Woodward stopped by to present the group with the Flag of Honor.

The Flag of Honor contains the names of all the victims of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 2001. The flags were created with the intention of honoring their memory.

"It was truly an honor to receive the flag," said Julie Whitney, chairman of the board and spokesperson for the Bayshore Patriots. "(The flag) is really beautiful."

The flag's creator, John Michelotti, who worked almost full time to develop the flags while recuperating from emergency bypass surgery, made them because he felt that the victims of the attacks should never be relegated to mere numbers, but remembered as individual lives. Since their creation Mr. Michelotti has received requests from around the world for the Flag of Honor.

During a memorial service in 2004, nearly 4,000 of the flags were flown and almost 900 of them became tattered and ripped due to strong winds. In an effort dubbed the "Betsy Ross Project" a group of 22 individuals from the Gresham Senior Center in Gresham, Ore., volunteered to mend the flags back to their original condition.

Ms. Whitney said no definite plans have yet been made for the Flag of Honor received from Colonel Woodward, but she said it will most likely be making regular appearances on Friday afternoons on Bayshore Blvd.

July 15 marked the 200th Friday the Bayshore Patriots lined up to wave their flags, and the group seems to continuously grow.

Joyce Allen and her husband Ret. Lt. Col. Tom Allen are Bayshore Patriots and regulars among the flag wavers. "We've probably been here close to 165 times," said Mrs. Allen.

The group was loud and proud July 15, and shouts of "U.S.A." and "Support our troops!" could be heard up and down the street.

What began as a small group has expanded to include thousands, and the Bayshore Patriots now have one more flag to display each and every Friday afternoon for all to see.

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