9/11 flag to fly on new ship

By Mike Hibbard Finger Lakes Times

Joanne and Steve Galvin assigned meaning to each of the flag’s elements — its colors and stars — when they designed a Remembrance Flag in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Submitted photo

Joanne and Steve Galvin assigned meaning to each of the flag’s elements — its colors and stars — when they designed a Remembrance Flag in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Submitted photo

WOLCOTT — Joanne Galvin can’t wait to see her creation flying high on a naval ship.

The one thing that would make the experience better would be if her husband was alive to see it. “I know Steve would be beside himself with pride over this honor,” Galvin said. “There are no words that can express how I can imagine Steve would feel about this.”

On March 1, Galvin will be in Philadelphia for the commissioning of the USS Somerset.

The ship’s name honors the passengers of United Airlines Flight 93, whose actions September 11, 2001, prevented terrorist hijackers from reaching their intended target, believed to be the White House or Capitol Building. The plane crashed near Shanksville, Pa., in Somerset County, killing all 44 people aboard, including four hijackers.

Flying alongside the U.S. flag and other flags on the Somerset will be the 9/11 National Remembrance Flag, which Galvin and her husband designed shortly after the terrorist attacks.

“Steve and I got to thinking about something we could do to help with everything that happened and the relief efforts,” said Galvin, a North Rose resident. “We thought designing a flag would be a good way to forever remember what happened that day. Instead of making a one-time donation, we thought if we manufactured the flag and sold them with proceeds going to relief efforts, that would be our contribution.”

Steve Galvin died of cancer in 2005.

The blue on each side of the flag represents the color of the state flag for each state where a plane was downed: New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Galvin said the black in the center represents the sorrow for the innocent lives lost on the planes, those working at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the rescue workers who died.

The stars represent the four planes that crashed and signify Flight 93, the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. The red, white and blue stars represent the U.S. flag.

Since the Galvins designed the flag and contracted a company in Valley Forge, Pa., to manufacture it, more than 4,000 9/11 National Remembrance Flags have been sold to fund relief efforts. Others have been donated to families of the victims.

Gene Stilp, a Pennsylvania firefighter who designed the Flight 93 memorial flag that also will fly on the ship, told Galvin the 9/11 National Remembrance Flag would be flown too. Galvin met Stilp years ago in Shanksville, where both their flags were displayed at a memorial site.

“I’m not really sure how the Navy found out about our flag, probably from a Flight 93 remembrance ceremony in Shanksville,” Galvin said. “The only thing I can assume is they saw the flag and liked the design of it.”

State Sen. Mike Nozzolio, R-54 of Fayette, has worked with the Galvins to try to gain recognition for their flag and is excited about the latest honor.

“The flying of the 9/11 Remembrance Flag during the commissioning of the USS Somerset is a tribute to the victims of September 11th. It is this memory that keeps the spirit of those we lost alive and continues to remind us that we can never take a single thing for granted, especially our freedom and the individuals who defend it each and every day,” Nozzolio said in a press release.

While most of the flags designed by the Galvins are 3 by 5 feet, the two that will be raised on the Somerset are 13 by 15 feet.

The Somerset is the last of three Navy ships to be commissioned in memory of September 11, following the USS New York in 2009 and USS Arlington in 2013.

“Needless to say, I am overwhelmed with this honor,” Galvin said. “It’s going to be amazing to see our flag flying on the ship.”

To learn more about the flag, please click here.

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