The Sept. 11 memorial flag: Never forget
On the night of Sept. 11, 2001, Maria Choronzuk went to bed in heartache as did so many across the country.
She had seen the second plane hit as it happened that morning, but working in the frenzied atmosphere that occupied all of us at the Daily Herald, she had gotten through the day.
"It had a strong impact on me as it did everyone else. It was just overwhelming," says Choronzuk, at the time our presentation editor. "(But) it wasn't until that night that my head was spinning."
She slept fitfully that night. But she woke the next morning with a clear vision. She wanted to make sure the fallen were remembered and she conceived of a way to take advantage of her unique design skills to do so.
This Sept. 11 memorial flag, designed by Choronzuk with exhaustive care, was first published in December 2001 after she was able to search out the names of each of the fallen.
We reproduce the image here today, but the original file is long gone and this reproduction is admittedly difficult to read.
That being the case, we encourage you to download the pdf attached to this story, which would enable you to expand it for legibility. We encourage you to share it via email and social media.
The blue star field is created from the lyrics to "God Bless America."
The red stripes are made up of the names of each of the victims.
In 2001, the flag was published on heavy newspaper stock across two pages, with nothing printed on the reverse side as way to avoid having ink bleed through.
Updates and slight improvements were added over the next several months, and it was reproduced on September 11, 2002.
Back then, readers and shopkeepers put the flag up on windows and doors. Some teachers used it in their classrooms while teaching about Sept. 11. It made its way into a few firehouses, too.
"Each victim needs to be remembered and honored," Choronzuk said at the time. "Each name needs to be etched into the heart of a nation."
She has had many successes working over the years in design, art and social media. When we tracked her down to ask her to reflect on the flag, she described it as "the highlight of my career."
For her, for us and for those who embraced it, it carried a solemn message: