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Archive for Sunday, September 16, 2001

Veteran lends 7-ton flag

Stars and Stripes came from Kansas

September 16, 2001

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— Plans are under way to unfurl a 7-ton symbol of patriotism near the site of a Pennsylvania plane crash.

That symbol is the Great American Flag, which the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center sold to 51-year-old Army veteran Ted Dorfman during an eBay Internet auction in July. Dorfman also got the semitrailer used to store it with his high bid of $12,300.

Dorfman lives in Greensburg, Pa., in a county bordering Somerset County, where the hijacked plane crashed Tuesday. Ceremonies are being planned, and Dorfman hopes to unfold the flag Saturday near the site.

The last time the flag was unfurled was in 1997, at a Wichita cemetery. Made of heavy-gauge polyester, it covers 2 acres when unfolded.

The giant flag had never been flown, and Dorfman's dream after the national tragedy this week was to see the flag hoisted in Somerset County.

"I can't tell you how badly I'd love to try to fly this flag," Dorfman said in a telephone interview Friday morning.

But engineers and experts later determined flying the flag would be too risky in the windy area.

"We did not have the proper rigging to do it safely, and if you have too much wind, this thing will act like a sail and blow the cranes over," said Roy Meyerl, in sales with the Pittsburgh-based MAXIM Crane Works.

"There are too many ifs," he added, "and we don't need any more catastrophes in the country right now."

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