‘Flag of Heroes’ unveiled

LANA MUTHLER / THE EXPRESS From left are, Clinton County Sheriff Kerry Stover, Carmen Banfill, and Sgt. Terry Banfill with the new Flag of Heroes, now hanging in the sheriff’s office. The Flag of Heroes was donated by the Banfills.

LOCK HAVEN — It was an emotional morning outside the Clinton County courthouse as the Flag of Heroes was dedicated.

In memory of those killed in the Sept. 11 terror attacks, the Flag of Heroes is a special flag — instead of the traditional stripes, the names of first responders who died on Sept. 11 fill out the red and white stripes.

The ceremony was organized by Sgt. Terry Banfill and his wife, Carmen. It featured the National Anthem, guest speakers and the unveiling and dedication of the Flag of Heroes.

The Banfills have distributed more than 200 flags throughout the county. The Flag of Heroes will hang in the office of Sheriff Kerry Stover.

“When the sheriff asked me to put a flag up in his office, I knew I had the perfect flag for today,” Banfill said. “There’s no better way to honor those people who lost their lives that day.”

The ceremony featured opening and closing remarks from Banfill, an invocation from Alan Black, featured speaker Dave Bower and Stover. The colors were presented and the National Anthem was played.

“It was very emotional, I think, for everyone,” Banfill said.

Bower, a state VFW Service Officer, talked about what Sept. 11 means, 18 years later.

“On a day like this one, sun shining, blue sky … 20 terrorists decided to alter the course of American history,” Bower recalled. “The people that they affected were ordinary Americans going about their everyday jobs. Many were reporting to work at the World Trade Center, many were riding in planes for business and pleasure. The chaos that was caused was terrible, horrific and very hard to watch.”

The worst terror attack in U.S. history united the nation, Bower said.

“In that war and in those acts of terrorism, there was inspiration. There were acts where individual Americans in the towers took their time to escort others down. In the photos (from that day), you can see police ushering civilians to safety. And in those same pictures, you see the first responders heading toward the danger … a danger unlike any other they’d ever faced,” Bower said.

Bower talked at length about the heroic acts of the first responders who climbed the stairwells of the World Trade Center. The firefighters, he said, showed bravery that had never been seen before.

“They knew the danger they were facing and they still rushed into that building,” Bower said.

The Flag of Heroes is a fitting tribute, he said.

“This Flag of Heroes, the names on there … they’re the epitome of what a hero really is. Today, we throw that word around a lot. We have football heroes, we have movie star heroes. These are the real heroes because a lot of them knew they weren’t coming back. You have to say, ‘Thank God we have Americans like that,'” Bower said.

Stover was the final speaker of the morning. He talked about the flag and its meaning.

“The reason we’re here today is this flag. Mr. Banfill and I talked about getting a flag for the office and we talked about this particular flag that had the names of all the first responders who lost their lives that day. He gave me a choice (of flags) and I took this one. I’ve been a first responder all my adult life … I’ve always liked helping people and that’s what these people did, 18 years ago today,” Stover said.

“This flag is very special to me. It will hang in the main office so everyone can see it,” Stover said. “Carmen and Terry are leaving their mark on the county in a truly wonderful way.”

After the flag was unveiled, there was a moment of silence for those who lost their lives on Sept. 11 followed by the playing of “America, the Beautiful” and Taps.

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