the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, no American symbol has proved as unflappable
and inspiring as the Stars and Stripes.
The image of firefighters flying the American flag
over the World Trade Center rubble has become a metaphor for a country
rallying through grief and rising above destruction.
They trail from car antennas and wave outside of
bodegas. It seems everyone wants an American flag.
flag has become a source of great comfort and solace," said Al Cavalare
Jr., who runs The Flag Guys, a New Windsor shop that has seen a jolt
in business unprecedented in its 24-year history. For a week after
the attacks, hundreds waited in line outside of Cavalare's shop.
It has become a symbol of unity. The flag says that
we are all Americans, no matter our ethnicity. The red-white-and-blue
has suddenly gained prominence along lower Broadway in Newburgh, where
Honduran, Puerto-Rican and Mexican flags once dominated.
got to stop hyphenating our names Irish-American, African-American,"
said Sheldon Heil, as he waited outside of The Flag Guys on Sept.
12. Heil said the rallying spirit of the day had crossed all ethnic
lines. "We're all Americans," he said.
And a new generation has discovered the almost spiritual
power that our flag provides. Cavalare's favorite story involves a
young woman who arrived at his shop at closing time. She had all the
earmarks of youth, including a lip piercing. She had come for her
Cavalare was used to dealing with "West Pointers,
marines . veterans and politicians," so he asked the girl why she
She said, "this all has just made me realize how
much I love my country."
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