9/13/01: Citizens proud to fly U.S. flag after attack

9/13/01: Citizens proud to fly U.S. flag after attack

This story originally appeared on Sept. 13, 2001.

ST. JOSEPH - Deb Sensenbrenner is waging a one-woman campaign to make sure Americans fly their flags.

On Wednesday she talked to the Champaign Wal-Mart manager about restocking the store's supply of flags. She also sent out e-mails to friends urging them to display Old Glory.

It's a campaign that Sensenbrenner, an American Airlines flight attendant, got involved in after seeing people overseas cheering about the deadly attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

"What affected me were the pictures of people cheering in the street, children clapping. I felt nauseous at that time," she said. "What they should be showing is the streets of America where flags are flying high, at half-staff."

"We've got to show the country and all the countries that this is not going break us and we're going to get through this," she said.

Maybe the most prominent flag flying locally Wednesday was a monstrous 50-by-30-foot version atop a crane at Neil Street and Stadium Drive in Champaign, next to Champaign Telephone Co.

Ed Gire, who put it there, said he did it "out of respect for the people killed and injured."

"It's just a beautiful thing, you know what I'm saying?" said Gire, who owns Gire Roofing in Villa Grove. "It feels good to go by it."

Some folks who normally fly the flag only on holidays brought theirs out Wednesday. Among them were Florence and Val Koble of 610 Hessel Blvd.

"It's a sad thing that happened - sad to think such a thing could happen here in the United States," Florence Koble said.

At 1207 Dorie Miller Drive in northeast Champaign, a flag was flying outside Michael C. Davis' home.

"I'm doing it out of concern and patriotism for what happened in New York to show that I care about our country and its citizens," Davis said. "I just wanted to show solidarity. I'm outraged and appalled at what happened."

The flag's nothing new at the home of Roy Fancher, 602 W. Columbia Ave., C.

"It's been there 30 years, rain or shine," said Fancher, who served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and the Korean War. "I just bought a brand-new one the other day."

Fancher said he's surprised more people - particularly veterans - don't display their flags.

"On Flag Day and Veterans Day, you'll see 'em," he said, "but I fly 'em every day."

Shirley Maryan of Champaign said she thinks everyone should be flying a flag.

"I'm a very proud American," she said. "I put my flag out."

Maryan has a sister-in-law who was in New York when the terrorist attack happened. Family members found out she was unharmed, "but it took us a while," she said.

Sensenbrenner, the American Airlines flight attendant, said "chances are very slim" that she knows any of the flight attendants aboard the two American flights that were hijacked, given that the airline has more than 20,000 attendants. "It was going through my mind, as a flight attendant, how I would have reacted and what I would have done," she said.

Sensenbrenner said she's "always been patriotic." She said her dad had served in the Air Force for 25 years and her husband has been in the Air Force National Guard for 20 years.

She said she went to a church gathering Tuesday night in the wake of the attacks and realized she didn't know all the lyrics to a patriotic song that was sung.

"I was mad at myself for not knowing all the words to 'God Bless America,' although I knew most of them," she said. "We should know the words to that."




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