Friday -- June 14, 2002—Ground
Zero Plus 275
Flag Day Isn't Vigilance Day For
Makers Of World's Largest
U.S. Duct Tape Flag
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York
City, June 14-- Flag Day is a little more "sticky"
this year because of a guy named Todd Scott.
He’s the 30-year-old
biologist who came up with the idea in 1999 of making
things out of duct tape—like clothing, flowers, cakes,
liberty bells, animals and real life figures such as
biggest duct tape flag
ago he launched his most ambitious project—creating
the world’s largest American Flag made entirely of duct
He unveiled it Thursday
(June 13) at Union Square Park, New York City.
The creation measures 50x90 feet, weighs 500 pounds
and consumed 1,120 rolls of 20-yard tape—equal to more
than 13 miles. (Note: The world's largest
"standard flag" measures 255x505 feet and
weighs 3,000 pounds. It was hung from Hoover Dam)
The flag’s unveiling
kicked off Flag Day, and was also used to promote the
U.S. Army’s 227th anniversary.
There was only
one problem. Todd Scott and the U.S. Army who
presided over the world's largest duct tape flag unveiling
avoided any comment or tribute to Nine Eleven, and offered
no salute to the heroes or victims of the September
11 attack on U.S. security. Instead, they used the time
to promote and sell duct tape!
“No, it had nothing
to do with Nine Eleven,” stated Tara Seid, spokesperson
for Marina Maher Communications when I specifically
asked why there was such a distinct exclusion of any
comments or tributes by either the military spokesmen
present, or Todd Scott, regarding the tragic events
of September 11.
“We had the
idea before September 11,” Ms. Seid restated when I
pressed her on why there were no comments about Nine
Eleven, or dedication of the flag to the memories of
those who had heroically given their lives that day.
“We did it solely for Flag Day—not for Nine Eleven,”
deeply bothered by the obvious exclusion of any tribute--especially
by the U.S. Army who dominated the ceremonies.
The Army promoted the benefits of duct tape and highlighted
their 227th anniversary while ignoring honoring the
spirits of those who died for the flag on September
made me shudder. It was a flagrant example of
Complacency in my book--the kind that opens the door
to more Terrorism as we slowly drift away from "remembering
not to forget" to "forgetting."
to me is Vigilance Day. It is the day we
raise Old Glory to announce to all the Osama bin Ladens
of the world that America can not be Intimidated by
Terrorism—that our “colors don’t run.”
to the U.S. Army and Todd Scott, Flag Day was Complacency
Todd Scott mounting the stage in his red duct tape jacket
to unveil the duct tape flag, a U.S. army reserve captain,
dressed in full uniform, took the stage and began promoting
duct tape. He told how the army had used
it since World War II, and shined on about its virtues.
He rattled off statistics about how many times all the
duct tape ever sold would wrap around the world multiple
times, or how much it took to cover Manhattan, and how
the U.S. Army relied on duct tape to "stick things
I stood scratching
my head, wondering where this guy came from.
In thirteen months in Vietnam, and over 100 combat operations,
I never once remember using duct tape for anything.
But, according to the U.S. Army spokesman, it sounded
like I slept with in my foxhole.
Just when I thought the
water's were safe from having to swallow more duct tape
information, the captain introduced Brigadier General
John R. Hawkins, III.
(right) As the general mounted the stage
I braced myself for a speech about the bravery and courage
of Americans fighting Terrorism, and perhaps a moment
of silence for those who had fallen just a few blocks
away at the World Trade Center--Soldiers of Vigilance
fighting for the red-white-and-blue.
To my amazement
and discern, the general also waxed on about the glory
of duct tape. He extolled its virtues in
World War II and mentioned in passing that it was being
used by the military in Afghanistan.
He went on to illustrate how important duct tape was,
and how he had used it to help fix a broken propeller
on his private boat.
believe what I wasn’t hearing.
the flag on both the northeasterly and southeasterly
corners of the flag were two elevated platforms loaded
with news media. Television cameras were set up,
filming the event, photographers were snapping shots
right and left—and the general never once mentioned
September 11 or the responsibility each American has
to stand up against Terrorism.
he touted the 60th anniversary of the creation
of duct tape, and, how Flag Day also marked the 227th
anniversary of the U.S. Army.
I was stunned
by the general’s lack of respect for the heroes of Nine
Eleven. Nearly 3,000 brave Americans died for
the U.S. flag in one of our nation’s most horrific attacks
in history. Historically, more people
died on Nine Eleven than on the beaches of Normandy
on D-Day, June 6, 1944. But the general
made no comment or even inference that the world's largest
duct tape flag had any relation to those who lives were
lost or sacrificed in the attack.
the absolute least, he should have saluted the firemen,
police and emergency workers who gave their lives as
any brave soldier in any war that day. But he
singled out no one for tribute. He was bent on
promoting duct tape.
contrast, the evening before I had been inside the fire
station of Engine 33, Ladder Company 9, going over some
information with Lt. Bob LaRocco. LaRocco
survived the collapse of the south tower while all around
him were killed, and then survived the second tower's
collapse. Flags dot his fire station everywhere
you turn. They remind all those who go to
daily battle against fire, that if they die, it will
not be in vain. The American flag will fly
in honor of them, even, I thought, a duct tape flag.
I was ashamed and embarrassed at the exclusion of any
comments honoring our Nine Eleven heroes..
present, and the media, it appeared that one of our
senior U.S. military officers was far more interested
in promoting the sale of duct tape than in promoting
the defense and Vigilance necessary to keep our nation
safe. For a fleeting moment, I thought the general
might be on the duct tape payroll. If so,
he was out of uniform. A United States Army
Brigadier General, in my opinion, has no right to crumble
his public status as a Warrior of Vigilance for that
of Salesman of Duct Tape.
I did give Todd Scott credit for creating the flag even
if his intent was more commercial than patriotic.
world’s largest American Duct Tape Flag—sent a bold
signal around the world to Terrorism, even if he didn’t
plan it to.
if Osama bin Laden was watching CNN he would stomp his
feet in anger. “Look, these American people…they
still think their country is the best…they are making
flags out of duct tape! Their will is incredible.
we underestimated the civilians. But we
sure didn’t the military. Look at that general.
He’s selling tape. He’s telling everyone
how he used duct tape to fix the rudder of his boat.
Ha! What a joke. No wonder they cannot find
me! They are too busy selling duct tape.”
As a former
Marine and combat veteran, I learned to love the American
flag and everything it represents. Perhaps
that's why I was so disappointed in the general's lack
of emphasis or tribute to the fallen heroes of Nine
Eleven. The U.S. Flag has always been the
source of inspiration for people fighting for its principles.
Vietnam, just before a big battle, Lieutenant Colonel
Leon Utter, commander of the 2nd Battalion,
7th Marines, would gather us under the thatched
roof of the makeshift battalion chapel to pray before
we faced our enemy. He gave us a motivational
talk, just as any coach would a championship team about
to hit the gridiron. He knew, as well as
we, that not all of us would return.
To drive any lingering
ounces of Terrorism from us—such as a drop of Fear here,
a chunk of Intimidation there-- he would grab the American
Flag with one hand, ball it up in his fist and shove
it toward us. With the other hand he would hold
up the Bible.
“Lots of great
men died for these threads,” he would say.
“They weren’t afraid to die either. They believed
in what these colors stand for—the red for the blood
of those who fought for our freedom, the white for the
purity of our purpose, and the blue for the prosperity
that freedom offers all who fight for it.
If some of us die today, we will die for the glory of
the flag—our blood will become part of this flag's fabric—we
will never be forgotten for our sacrifice. I will never
forget, you will never forget, and no other Marine will
ever forget you gave your life for Liberty, for Freedom.
Now, let’s go kill them before they kill us!”
I always saw the flag flying just ahead, urging us forward,
giving us a reason to fight to the last man for what
we believed. Despite the critics of the Vietnam
War, we believed all the citizens of that land had the
right to be free of Terrorism of all shapes and sizes.
But Vietnam was an unpopular war.
burned the flag and spat upon it. It was troubled times—however, the
flag endured. It lasted long enough for Todd Scott to build one of
duct tape. It lasted long enough to be flown with pride and dignity
over all parts of America and the world after September 11.
The pictures of the three firemen
raising the flag at Ground Zero ranks with equal honor to the one Joe
Rosenthall took at Iwo Jima as the Marines hoisted the flag on top of
After I returned from war, I took the power of the U.S. Flag
with me into business.
I was fortunate enough to be
part of a team that spearheaded the franchising concept in America. I
was the senior vice president of marketing for Century 21
International Real Estate. We grew from a handful of offices in 1972
to over 7,500 in 1980. We were larger than McDonald’s, and boasted
more than 10% of all the real estate sales in America—representing $50
billion in gross product sales. Our sales force exceeded
Part of my adventure in the franchise business included
traveling from town to town across America, giving lectures on
the Great American Dream—the right to own your own business, to be the
captain of your own financial destiny. I carried with me a number of
U.S. Flags--the original 13-star version, standard U.S. Flags and
military flags--those with the gold fringe. They would
adorn the walls wherever I spoke. The audience would be
surrounded by Old Glory.
During my talks, I took a page from Colonel
Utter’s speeches, and clutched the flag, as he would have, reminding
my audiences that ultimate freedom meant owning your own business.
In my other hand I held a Declaration of Independence.
I related to each attendee that he or she was a
franchisee of America. And how the word “disenfranchised” meant one
lost his or her citizenship, and all the benefits that go along with
it. I emphasized that to maintain our nation’s strength; we must
fight for the competitive edge not only in war, but also in business.
I spoke of how many died to offer individuals the right of private
ownership, and that owning one's own business was a fundamental right,
guaranteed under the U.S. Flag for those willing to take the risks
I sold many franchises because I believed then, as I do now,
that our American flag stands for a lot more than mere duct tape. I
believe it symbolizes the backbone of Freedom, and its power comes
from those who are willing to die so others may be the benefactors of
At Ground Zero on May 30, as I marched with the family
members up West Street, following the flag-draped stretcher inside an
ambulance. It symbolized the last remains of the last fallen
warrior of Nine Eleven. I thought of that stretcher
passing by as the general went on about duct tape. I wondered
why he "forgot to remember."
I had hoped the general would say: "America is proud of
all the heroes who have given their lives for our country. This
duct tape flag is the world's largest of its kind. But to
express your appreciation for what America stands for, the size of the
flag you wear or appreciate isn't important. Even a small
American Flag on your lapel carries the same power as the world's
largest duct tape flag. When you wear the U.S. Flag, or honor
it, you are wearing the blood of tens of thousands who died for
your Freedom. Just down the way at Ground Zero, on
September 11, twenty-eight hundred of your fellow citizens died.
Their memories join the other brave, courageous Americans who are
represented in the weave of each American Flag. So as we
dedicate this duct tape flag, let's take a moment of silence and
respect for all those who gave their lives throughout history so that
this flag could be here today."
But there was an absence of such words from the general's
mouth. His silence on the issue left me feeling empty.
I could hear the Sentinels of Vigilance moaning, sorrowful that those
in attendance, especially the children, had no reference to the flag's
real power or might.
The general's lack of commentary, his lack of respect for the
true meaning of the flag was more than an oversight—it represented a
syndrome so many falls into so quickly. That is the syndrome of
forgetting to remember. The syndrome of Complacency.
Today, on Flag Day, I hope everyone salutes the flag out
respect for those who gave their lives for everyone’s freedom. I
hope when they read about the world's largest duct tape flag, they
will make up for the general's lack of respect--and issue a moment of
silence for all the blood of all the Soldiers of Vigilance that flows
through each and every flag.
After the ceremonies, I chose not to salute the general. I
assumed his uniform was made of non-regulation duct tape.
(Note: Below are linked pages below
offering various pictures of flags taken since September 11 by the
author in and around New York City. Each flag represents a symbol of
Vigilance. Each is a signpost, telling Terrorism that Fear,
Intimidation and Complacency will be whipped by the fluttering Flags
of Vigilance fueled by America’s Courage, Conviction and Right
Action. Interspersed, you will also note some excellent
flags taken off the web.)