City of Everett news release:
EVERETT – In November 2014, a man dropped off a flag at Everett Fire Station #1, claiming that it was the original flag that was raised by New York City firefighters above the site of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. The ground zero flag, as it became known, was an iconic symbol in the aftermath of 9/11, but was lost in the years following the attacks.
The Everett Fire crew delivered the flag to Everett Police for safeguarding, and over the next year, Everett detectives worked to investigate the origin and authenticity of the flag.
“We approached this as we would any found property case, but took extra precautions to ensure that the flag remained protected and secured during our investigation,” said Chief Dan Templeman. “Our goal was to determine whether there was evidence to suggest that this was the ground zero flag and then work to reunite the flag with its owner.”
Detectives’ investigation included DNA analysis, photographic comparisons, and eyewitness identification. Everett Police also had assistance from Bill Schneck, a Washington State Patrol forensic microscopist with extensive expertise in 9/11 debris. Schneck’s analysis determined that the debris and particulates on the flag and halyard were consistent with debris and particulates from ground zero.
Early in the investigation, Everett Police contacted the History Channel and Left/Right productions, which had produced a documentary about the missing flag, and Shirley Dreifus, the flag’s original owner. Those contacts provided additional analytical assistance during the investigation.
“Ultimately, our detectives concluded that there was enough compelling evidence to determine that this was likely the ground zero flag,” said Templeman. “We then began working with our contacts in New York to develop a plan to return and preserve the flag.”
“Our officers and detectives do incredible work on daily basis, whether they’re handling a routine case or an investigation with significant historical implications,” said Mayor Ray Stephanson. “We’re honored to have played a role in this mystery, and we’re pleased that the flag will be preserved for all those impacted by the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001.”
The Hillis Clark Martin and Peterson law firm donated their legal services to help develop the necessary legal agreements for the flag to be donated to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. The flag will be exhibited at the museum and will be featured in an upcoming special on History, “America’s 9/11 Flag: Rise from the Ashes."