By David Hinckley New York Daily News
It was the best of moments on the worst of days.
That’s why it matters, says Michael Tucker, that the flag spontaneously raised by three firefighters in the rubble of the twin towers on the afternoon of September 11, 2001, somehow disappeared.
That’s one of the things Tucker and Petra Epperlein explore in The Flag, a documentary that premieres next Wednesday at 9 p.m. on CNN.
Their film starts with the mystery: What happened to the flag those firefighters borrowed from a boat in the North Cove Marina and raised amid the smoke of the rubble?
We were told at the time that it traveled to Yankee Stadium for ceremonies on September 23 and eventually flew over American ships in the Middle East.
“By the next day it was gone,” says Tucker. “Everything after that was a different flag.”
Tucker and Epperlein tried every avenue to track down the original. All dead ends.
“Our consensus,” Tucker says, “and there were 8 billion theories, is that there was a shift change later that night, and someone just took it down, with no idea of its significance.”
But The Flag quickly expands beyond the mystery.
“I’m not sure that even now most of us realize the scale of what happened at Ground Zero,” says Tucker. “I think we’re still absorbing its impact.
“So much of the story, to me, is about the firefighters. They’re the real deal. And it’s about how Americans reacted. So many people told us they never felt more American than they felt that day.
“I hope people come away from this film thinking this country is worth believing in.”