Surviving 9/11 American Flag Pulled From World Trade Center Rubble Sells For Over $40,000 At Auction

An American flag recovered at Ground Zero of the World Trade Center buildings following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks has sold for tens of thousands of dollars. First responder Vito Messana, a member of Teamsters Local 282 who assisted in the search and rescue and cleanup efforts, pulled the flag from the smoldering rubble at WTC Tower #2 and held onto it for more than 20 years.

Despite being frayed and shredded, the flag survived the deadliest terrorist attacks in human history. It sold at Heritage Auctions on Friday for $41,250.

American flag recovered at Ground Zero

“The flag shows evidence of having endured the traumatic events from which it survived,” Heritage Auctions writes in the flag’s description lot. “A ‘V’-shaped section from the center area to the fly end is missing with fraying and shredding. Mr. Messana has added an inscription in black marker to the center of the canton which reads, ‘WTC 9-11-01 Tower 2.'”

Hundreds of American flags were believed to be in the Twin Towers, but only a handful made it out amid the fires and collapse. Heritage says authentic 9/11 flags that the public is interested in include:

  • Debris Field Flags recovered from the WTC debris fields
  • Freshkills Landfill Flags recovered from the 9/11 processing site on Staten Island, New York
  • WTC Associated flags are flags transported to the site by NYPD or FDNY generally while recovering the remains of the fallen
  • 9/11 Commemorative or Memorial flag are those flags taken to the site by grieving relative of those lost

Most of the recovered flags from Ground Zero, though, went to the Smithsonian, the New York State Museum and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

More than 2,700 people were killed in New York that day. Overall, 2,977 died in the Sept. 11 attacks in New York, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania.

A Day That Changed the World: Remembering the Sept. 11 Attacks

On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, the United States experienced the deadliest terrorist attack in its history. In a series of coordinated strikes that shocked the world, 19 al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four commercial airliners, crashing two of them into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and one into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. The fourth plane, believed to be heading for the U.S. Capitol or the White House, crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after passengers heroically fought back against the hijackers.

The impact was immediate and catastrophic. The Twin Towers, once iconic symbols of American economic might, collapsed within hours of being struck, leaving a smoldering pile of rubble and a gaping hole in the city’s skyline. In total, 2,977 people were killed in the attacks, including 343 firefighters and 60 police officers who rushed into the burning towers to save lives.

The September 11 attacks were a defining moment for a generation, a day when the world watched in horror as the United States, the world’s sole superpower, appeared suddenly vulnerable. In the immediate aftermath, the country came together in a show of unity and resolve. President George W. Bush promised to bring those responsible to justice, famously declaring a “war on terror” that would reshape American foreign policy for years to come.

In the days and weeks that followed, the United States launched a military campaign against al-Qaeda and its Taliban allies in Afghanistan, marking the beginning of what would become the longest war in American history. The attacks also led to a fundamental shift in the U.S. national security apparatus, with the creation of the Department of Homeland Security and a vast expansion of domestic surveillance powers.

Over 20 years later, the legacy of September 11 continues to shape the world we live in. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, launched in the wake of the attacks, have claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and reshaped the Middle East. The rise of ISIS and the spread of global terrorism have kept the threat of extremist violence at the forefront of international politics. And the United States, once a symbol of openness and freedom, has grappled with questions of security, civil liberties, and the balance between the two.

But amidst the tragedy and the geopolitical upheaval, there are also stories of resilience, heroism, and hope. The firefighters and first responders who rushed into the burning towers, the passengers on United Flight 93 who fought back against their hijackers, the countless volunteers who came from across the country to aid in the recovery effort — these are the stories that remind us of the best of humanity in the face of unimaginable evil.

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