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The unbelievable story of the 9/11 flag

That was raised by the firemen at Ground Zero on 9/11

And stolen the same day

Bringing History to Life

This is my story of the 9/11 flag. The firefighters, Dan McWilliams, together with George Johnson and Billy Eisengrein, borrowed it from my boat, the Star of America, docked at North Cove Yacht Harbor by the World Financial Center the afternoon of 9/11.


Amazingly, Tom Franklin was able to capture the hoisting of the flag at Ground Zero, what we called the site of the former World Trade Center. The flag in that historic picture supposedly went around the world. You will learn, it never went anywhere! It was missing almost immediately.


My husband, Spiros Kopelakis, and I, spent years searching for the flag after we learned it was missing. It was only found thirteen years later when a program, Lost History, hosted by Brad Meltzer, ran on the History Channel October 31, 2014.

Symbolic Flag from the U.S. Capitol is i

The Day of Horror

Everyone old enough, remembers where we were on 9/11 when terrorists struck America. I should have been in my office on the 89th Floor of One World Trade Center for an 8:30 a.m. meeting. I was lucky. Spiros and I overslept.


We were home, two blocks from the Twin Towers when the planes hit. Spiros was in the kitchen and saw the terrorism from our window. He pulled me into the kitchen, and I saw Building One with a hole, smoke, and some flames. We both went into shock.

Ground-Zero-Image by WikiImages from Pix

It took me years to recover from that day and write this mostly unknown history of the 9/11 flag. By happenstance, Brian Thomas Browne ended up with the flag in his possession in Everett, Washington. Thirteen years later he showed true patriotism when he turned it in to authorities. The real flag wasn’t seen again by the public until I donated it to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum on September 8, 2016, in honor of my then-deceased husband.

Brian assisted me with many of the facts in the book. As a 9/11 victim, and both Brian and I, the children of Holocaust survivors, we didn’t want more deception. Lies are becoming too acceptable nowadays. We need to become a nation of honor again.

History and Reality

Flag-New York WTC Credit- Bernd Joisten

The Book’s Release

Flag-New York WTC Credit- Bernd Joisten

The book will be released for sale at the 9/11 National Memorial & Museum. It will also be on the website,, and as an Amazon Kindle eBook. We will be donating part of the website and Amazon Kindle eBook sales to The Never Forget Fund established by the Museum to help it overcome the financial losses that resulted from the pandemic.

I hope you find the book interesting, and the mystery fascinating. I also hope that you will feel good that by purchasing the book, you are helping us take a stance against terrorism. I hope the spirit of the book helps our country become the America of 9/11, one in which we worked together. One in which we are not divided by race, religion, or political party.

Let us become a great country again.

If I can do just a little to accomplish this, I will be happy.

In My Own Words


I have spent my career in business and writing, including heading management practices at an Economist Group division, managing consulting groups at JPMorgan Chase, and a senior communicator at Jensen Communications Group.


In 1995, together with my business partner, Farhan I. Ali, we founded Strategic Communications Group Inc. While at the Economist Group, I authored the Global Management Desk Reference and coauthored Strategic Planning for IT, both published by McGraw-Hill.


I have an MBA in International Business and Marketing from NYU Stern School and a BA in English and Education from Russell Sage College. This is the first personal book I have written. It was drawn from my experience as a 9/11 survivor.

I can be contacted on this website or on my LinkedIn page.

Author’s Note: This was written before coronavirus.
With its serious impact on humanity, I almost didn’t publish
the book. However, 9/11 is part of our country’s history.
Perhaps if we worked together as we did then to achieve a
common goal, our lives and country would be different.

 Shirley B. Dreifus

Shirley B Dreifus

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