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9/11 flag

9/11 flag

Top left section of an Australian flag with stains, tears and burns. The Union Jack is visible, along with the large seven-pointed star. The section bearing the Southern Cross is quite crumpled.
Australian flag recovered from the ruins of the World Trade Center following the terrorism attack of 2001. Photo: George Serras.

11 September 2001

At 8.45am on 11 September 2001, a passenger plane, which had been hijacked by Al Qaeda terrorists, crashed into the North Tower of New York's World Trade Center. Fifteen minutes later, a second plane slammed into the South Tower. By 10.30am the Twin Towers had collapsed, removing one of New York's most famous landmarks. Over 2600 people died in the terrorist attack, including ten Australians.

The terror attacks of 11 September 2001 marked the beginning of the 'war on terror'. Australia is at the forefront of the struggle, joining with the United States and its allies to contribute forces to the invasion of Afghanistan and later Iraq. The conflict touched Australia deeply when on 12 October 2002, over 200 people, many of them Australian, were killed in a series of explosions in the Bali holiday resort of Kuta. Bombings of the Australian Embassy in Jakarta on 9 September 2004 and the recent bombings at Kuta Square and Jimbaran Bay in Bali, which caused a number of deaths and injuries, have shown that acts of terrorism are an ever present and grim reality facing us all.

In the aftermath of the destruction of the World Trade Center, thousands of objects were excavated from the site. Among these items was an Australian flag. The 120 by 178 centimetre flag was intact but soiled, crumpled and with minor tears. It was discovered in the basement of World Trade Centre Three, which was destroyed by falling debris from the collapse of the Twin Towers. The flag is believed to have been used for ceremonial purposes in the World Trade Center Three's 22-storey Marriott Hotel which was destroyed in the attack. New York Police Department Emergency Services Unit Detective Patrick McGee presented the flag to Australia's Consul General Ken Allen in a private ceremony in August 2004.

The flag is now part of the National Historical Collection and will be preserved as a reminder of the tragic events of September 2001. The Museum has also preserved items from the 2002 Bali bombing and the Jakarta Embassy attack.

Guy Hansen

More information

Collection highlight on the September 11 Australian flag