Zama sixth-graders make 9/11 tribute flag, pledge

Students from Arnn Elementary school at Camp Zama's Sagamihara Housing Area sing "America the Beautiful" during a 9-11 Remembrance Ceremony Thursday. The flag some of the students are holding was designed by Arnn students, and each element represents a significant event of the day's tragedies, from the collapse of the World Trade Center to the heroic actions of the passengers of Flight 93.


By JENNIFER H. SVAN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 13, 2003

CAMP ZAMA, Japan — Arnn Elementary School sixth-graders here say they won’t forget the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

They’ll forever associate the anniversary of that day with a class project: designing a flag with three distinct markings symbolic of the tragic events that unfolded that day.

“It shows everything that happened,” student Cole Dadswell said Thursday, the second anniversary of the attack.

Two black stripes represent the World Trade Center twin towers, outlined in gold.

The black star with the number “93” symbolizes tiny Shanksville, Pa., where Flight 93 crashed.

And the union of 50 stars in the five-sided pentagon stands for, well, the Pentagon.

The design meant to stand for unity was unveiled at a Sept. 11 observance in front of the new campus Thursday morning.

Students, parents and teachers waved flags of construction paper, glued to sticks.

Students also held a 2-foot by 4-foot quilt of the same pattern and recited an original Sept. 11 pledge.

The flag project began last year with a discussion in one of sixth-grade teacher Jeffrey Dreher’s classes.

His students assessed a memorial flag published in Stars and Stripes — an exact replica of Old Glory, except for two black stripes representing the twin towers — and talked about what was missing.

Soon, the design with three Sept. 11 symbols was created.

The project carried over to this school year as all Arnn sixth-graders helped make the flags, with one addition, distributed at Thursday’s observance.

“They added shimmering gold surrounding the two twin towers,” Dreher said. “By day, the towers reflected the sun, and by night, lights always seemed to be on, and just the light that lived in there.”

Tied into flag construction was a lesson on the importance of remembering the terrorist attacks.

Dreher and students discussed that “democracy comes at a cost, and we need to keep that freedom,” he said. “One of the ways of doing that is keeping in mind what happened in the past. And as one of my students said, ‘So that history does not repeat itself.’”

Sixth-graders at Thursday’s ceremony also had their own ideas about how to remember the attacks.

“I think we should have a day off to celebrate this day because (Flight 93) saved the White House from terrorists,” said student Chase Barrett.

Dreher and his students are hoping their flag design is unique enough to secure a trademark.

Ultimately, they want to replicate the flag and the Sept. 11 pledge of allegiance on coffee mugs, T-shirts, polo shirts and quilts.

Proceeds would go to families of U.S. troops killed fighting the war on terrorism, Dreher said.

Sixth-grader Kiele Allen likes most “the gold trimming outside the two towers. It symbolizes that the two towers always shine day and night.”