Jack Walis is a retired FDNY firefighter. His role with the flag was transporting and setting it up. As one of two Honor Guards, he was there to ensure that nothing would damage the flag while being displayed. He traveled with the flag to Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Maine, Texas, California, Florida, and of course New York and New Jersey. He escorted the flag to such places as Fort Hood, Texas; Columbine High School in Colorado;
the state capitol of Wyoming; Mount Rushmore; and Crazy Horse, South Dakota. Amanda Davis, author of 30,000 Stitches, interviewed Jack to hear more of his story.
Amanda: Can you tell me a bit more about yourself and your role with the National 911 Flag?
Jack: My name is Jack Walis. I‘m a retired FDNY firefighter. My role with the flag was transporting and setting up the flag. An Honor Guard would travel with the flag to keep it safe. Usually there would be two Honor Guards. They would ensure that nothing would damage the flag while being displayed.
Amanda: That’s fascinating. Thank you for your dedication to keeping the flag safe throughout its journey. Where were some of the places you traveled with the flag?
Jack: I’ve traveled with the flag to Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota. Maine, Texas, California, Florida, and of course NY and NJ. I escorted the flag to such places as Fort Hood, Texas, Columbine High School, in Colorado, State Capitol of Wyoming, Mount Rushmore, and Crazy Horse, South Dakota.
Jack Walis (left) carrying the flag to its final resting place at the 9/11 memorial and museum
Amanda: That’s a lot of places! What is
one of the places that stands out to you the most and why?
Jack: One place that stands out to me was while I was escorting the flag in Georgia. It was Martin Luther King Jr, Day, and we were in Atlanta at The King Center. We set up the flag for stitching ceremony as normal. But, what I wasn’t aware of, was that nearly 80 people from almost as many countries, would be taking the oath to becoming American citizens. How great is that? Right there, where we had displayed the flag. Each person got to put a stitch into the flag that day as they learned about the history of its origins.
Flag being stitched at the MLK center by MLK III
The Flag lays on the grave of Coretta and MLK in Atlanta, GA
Amanda: What a special experience for all involved. Talk about sewing together all of our different stories! With this in mind, what do you feel the National 9/11 flag symbolizes/what do you hope it means to people who learn about its story?
Jack: That to me, is what this flag symbolizes. That we are all individuals. We might not all come from the same place, but as Americans, we are sewn together in a way. We come together to lift each other up. The flag is about love and compassion. A symbol of hope.