On March 30th, 2018, the Freedom Flag made Virginia history when SB754 was signed into law by Governor Ralph S. Northam. SB754 added the Freedom Flag to the Code of Virginia (§1-510 Emblems of the Commonwealth) after passing unanimously through both houses of the Virginia General Assembly. SB754 was co-patroned by Senator Glen Sturtevant (R) and Delegate Lamont Bagby (D). Passage of the bill formalized what in many ways had already become true in the 16+ years since founder Richard Melito first sketched his vision of the Freedom Flag just days after the 9/11 attacks.
Since that time, the Freedom Flag has been widely embraced by educators, first responders, and the general public across Virginia (and beyond) as a powerful and enduring symbol of remembrance of 9/11. In the months following its creation, the Freedom Flag went “viral” in a pre-social media era. Freedom Flags were requested across the country in 35+ states and even traveled around the world. In 2002, the Freedom Flag Foundation was formed to help meet the rising demand for Freedom Flags, and a vision was born to make the Freedom Flag a national symbol of remembrance for 9/11.
In early 2003, both houses of the Virginia General Assembly affirmed that vision by passing resolutions HR58 and SR46 in support of “efforts to establish the Freedom Flag as the national symbol of remembrance of September 11, 2001.” Virginia Governor Mark Warner then followed with an Executive Order Proclaiming the Freedom Flag as the Commonwealth’s Official Symbol of Remembrance of 9/11. Over 1,000 schools in Virginia and beyond have raised the Freedom Flag each September 11th and recited the meaning of its 10 symbolic elements to provide a meaningful reference point for a moment of silence. With the passage of time, the Freedom Flag has recently emerged as an important teaching tool in K-12 classrooms. Teachers have found that its symbolism provides an excellent platform from which students may research the events of 9/11, understand its place in US History, and explore appropriate responses to 9/11 such as increased civic engagement and appreciation towards first responders.
The signing of SB754 further strengthens educational efforts in Virginia to teach current and future generations of K-12 students about 9/11. By learning the symbolism of the Freedom Flag and raising it each year on 9/11, today’s students are reminded annually of 9/11 history and are prompted to help uphold the promise Americans made to Never Forget the victims and heroes of 9/11.