SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - This Saturday will mark 20 years since the September 11 terrorist attacks that claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 people, and to mark the anniversary, the National Unity Flag, which was designed by a Valley native, will be put on display in Scottsdale.
This flag, which was made in the wake of 9/11, has been shown across the country many times over the years. On it are the 50 state flags, and in the middle, the names of those who died on that tragic day in 2001.
Flag designer remembers that tragic day
Randy Cooney remembers when Congress addressed a horrified nation on the night of the attack.
"I don't remember what they said, but I'll always remember what they did. They joined hands spontaneously, and began to sing 'God Bless America,'" said Cooney. "I was so moved by that moment in time that I began to think what that would look like visually."
That was when he came up with the idea of creating the flag that is now known as the National Unity Flag. Cooney said the flag took about a year to make, with the help of teachers and students from Ironwood High School.
Besides travelling across the country and making its way to Washington, D.C. three times, the flag was also signed by the entire U.S. Senate.
"It's the only item in U.S. history that was signed by all 100 Senators, and you'll see their names are on actually the frame. John Kyl and John McCain were the first two to sign it,
and they kind of led the charge with me to get everybody to sign it," said Cooney.
The National Unity Flag contains two state flags that have since been changed: the flag of Georgia and the flag of Mississippi, both of which feature a Confederate battle flag at the time the National Unity Flag was made. Georgia adopted its current flag in 2003, while Mississippi adopted a new flag in January 2021.
Especially in times of crisis and division, Cooney hopes the flag will help unite people again.
"Whether it be what we're going through now or what we went through then, it's a continual reminder that we do best when we're together," said Cooney.
The flag will be on display until Sept. 12 at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. On Sept. 11, the former students who helped sew together the flag are going to gather for an event.
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