BALTIMORE (WJZ)–This week marks the anniversary of the writing of the “Star-Spangled Banner” by Francis Scott Key.

Alex DeMetrick reports that has brought another flag to Fort McHenry–this one commemorating the most recent attack on America.

When the World Trade Center fell in the 9/11 terror attacks, first responders were in the process of saving lives. It turned out one of the last saved was one of their own.

“Yeah, I was one of the few survivors of the collapse of the towers. Eventually found alive and then got caught in the collapse of the second tower. Woke up. I was in an operating room. I was in another state. I ended up in Jersey City trauma center. Nobody thought to look for victims in another state. Eventually they found me,” recalled Joe Torrillo, retired New York firefighter.

On Wednesday, Baltimore City’s fire department responded to Fort McHenry and a cause Torrillo has taken on 10 years after his brush with death. It’s to fly an enormous American flag in all 50 states during the next 50 weeks.

Called the Patriot Flag, it has flown in New York, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pa. all in a single day this past Sunday.

The anniversary of the “Star-Spangled Banner” brings it to Maryland. It’s an unexpected sight for visitors.

“A lot of emotions just seeing that right now. You want to cry,” said Debbie Swanson, visitor. 

Stirring those feelings is what the journey is about. A piece of steel beam from the World Trade Center travels with the flag and Torrillo’s story. 

“You feel a moral obligation to share this story with the people and let them hear it correctly and respectfully,” Torrillo said. 

The Patriot Flag is 56 feet long and weighs 75 pounds. It was funded by private donations.


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