WHEELING - A new flag flies above Wheeling's Heritage Port this month, and its colors and canton hang in memory of lives lost 12 years ago today during terrorist strikes on the United States.
Sam Tomaselli - a retired Cleveland Heights, Ohio, police investigator living in Euclid, Ohio - said he drew the design of the flag just after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Sketching on a napkin, he placed the number "9" alongside two number "1" figures drawn to resemble the twin towers of the World Trade Center destroyed that day.
9-11 FLAG — Wheeling Operations Department employee Don Milton prepares to raise the 9/11 flag that was donated to the city of Wheeling. -- Scott McCloskey
"The day of the event inspired me," he said. "I was sitting at the kitchen table with my wife and sister, watching the news. I saw the first tower get hit. When the second tower got hit, I knew then it was no accident. It was an act of terror. I drew (the design for the flag) that day on a paper napkin, which I still have."
Tomaselli said his design now is registered with the Library of Congress, and flags bearing the design are manufactured by the Armstrong Flag Co. of Winchester, Mass. He sells the flags through his "Patriot Memorial Flag" website, and a percentage of the purchase price is donated to foundations that support victims' families.
In addition, he distributes the flags to local entities when he travels.
This summer, Tomaselli - who also makes wine - participated in the wine competition at the Upper Ohio Valley Italian Heritage Festival. While in Wheeling, he presented one of his flags to festival coordinator Kim Smith, who passed it on to city leaders.
"She said it was too big for the festival to keep, and she asked us if there was anywhere we could use it," said Tim Birch, operations supervisor for the city of Wheeling. "We said, 'Sure.'"
The flag was raised last week above Heritage Port, and it will fly throughout the month of September, he noted.
"We wanted everybody to remember 9/11, but we didn't want it to overshadow the U.S. flag," Birch said. "It replaces the (West Virginia) state flag for the month of September, and we would like to do this every September."