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Huge flag will be unfurled near United Flight 93 crash site

Saturday, September 22, 2001

By Deborah Weisberg, Tri-State Sports & News Service

Jennerstown Speedway in Somerset will be blanketed in red, white and blue on Monday as the world's second-largest American flag is unfurled by scores of volunteers.

It will be displayed about six miles from where 44 people died in the Sept. 11 crash of hijacked United Flight 93.

"I want to send a message to our enemy," said the flag's owner, Ted Dorfman, a senior vice president at the Greensburg office of Morgan Stanley, a brokerage firm whose headquarters was destroyed in last week's attack on the World Trade Center in New York. "I want to let them know that they've blown us out of our offices and killed our people and taken innocent lives, but we will continue to have babies, we will return to our jobs, and we will travel at will.

"The American flag will speak for itself."

More than a dozen corporations, led by Maxim Crane Works of West Mifflin, will donate time and equipment to place the seven-ton, 86,310-square-foot flag onto the parking area of the speedway. It will be used as the focus of a rally Monday night.

It will be an unprecedented show of patriotism in the wake of an unprecedented act of terrorism, said Dorfman, 51, of Greensburg, who was completing plans for Monday's program of hymn singing, poetry readings and performances by the Hempfield Area High School marching band. The event is free but donations will be accepted for the Salvation Army's Somerset Relief Fund, which aids the plane crash recovery effort.

A Vietnam-era veteran, Dorfman bought the flag -- which is larger than a football field -- on July 4, on eBay, the online auction site, for $12,300. It was his hope that the flag would be sponsored by various organizations and displayed around the country to raise money for veterans groups and to educate Americans.

Dorfman said the idea for the Jennerstown display originated with Maxim Crane Works' Roy Meyerl, who helped in the transport of the flag from Kansas.

Hydraulic truck cranes and telescoping boom forklifts will be used to hoist the flag out of the trailer and spread it over the parking lot tomorrow.

The flag is 22 stories high, with 13-foot stars and 16-foot-tall stripes. It was made in one month in 1980, with heavy gauge knit polyester/nylon fabric, by Anchor Industries of Evanston, Ind., at a cost of $400,000.

The flag can be viewed all day Monday. The program begins at 6:30 p.m. While there are plenty of volunteers for tomorrow and Monday, Dorfman said, more are needed for Tuesday to help fold the flag for storage. Those interested should simply show up at Jennerstown Speedway, off Route 30 about 10 miles east of Ligonier.

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