NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- The Navy returned the "Ground Zero" flag that was made famous by Bergen County (N.J.) Record photographer Tom Franklin to a delegation from New York City in a ceremony at sea on board USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) today (March 26).
The flag was raised Sept. 11 at the site of the World Trade Center in the aftermath of the attack. According to many, Franklin's photo was reminiscent of the flag raising on Iwo Jima during World War II.
Presented to Adm. Robert J. Natter, Commander in Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, by New York officials on Sept. 23, 2001, the flag has since flown on ships of the Theodore Roosevelt Battle Group and other units deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
"This flag has served as both a remembrance and as a motivator for our forward-deployed naval forces," said Natter. "We're privileged to have served as custodians of this national treasure."
The New York delegation, which will be on board the ship for the ceremony, will include the three firefighters who first raised the flag over "Ground Zero." Also present will be a New York City Port Authority officer and a New York City Police Department policeman. The delegation will be led by Mike Handy of the New York City mayor's office.
More than 7,000 Sailors and Marines of the Theodore Roosevelt Battle Group, commanded by Rear Adm. Mark P. Fitzgerald, departed Norfolk Sept. 19, 2001. Their deployment included extensive operations in the Mediterranean Sea, Arabian Gulf and primarily the Indian Ocean in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
The NBC "Today Show" broadcast the ceremony live from the aircraft carrier.
For more information on the Atlantic Fleet, go to http://www.atlanticfleet.navy.mil.