TO COINCIDE WITH THE MAJOR DOCUMENTARY, THE FLAG, FROM CNN FILMS—BASED ON DAVID FRIEND'S MASTERFUL ACCOUNT OF THE ICONIC IMAGE THAT DEFINED AMERICAN RESILIENCE AFTER 9/11
The Flag tells the fascinating and mysterious story behind the iconic image that captivated a nation. Excerpted from his critically acclaimed book Watching the World Change, journalist David Friend, an editor at Vanity Fair, reveals how a chance moment captured on camera—showing three firefighters hoisting a dust-laden Old Glory at Ground Zero on 9/11—inspired a nation during its darkest hour. But equally captivating is the maelstrom that surrounded the photograph in the months and years following its initial publication.
Friend brings us behind the scenes of the photograph's life, from its first exposure in a New Jersey newspaper to its instant fame as a rallying point for an embattled people looking for strength and a sense of community. In evenhanded and lucid prose, he describes the attempts to commodify the image, the heartbreaking appeals of families of the fallen to use it for memorial services, and the struggles of the three firemen to live with their unexpected fame.
Friend also traces the confounding path of the flag itself, which has been missing for twelve years, from the debris of the fallen towers, to Navy ships bound for the Middle East, to the hands of high-ranking dignitaries, showing how somewhere along the way the original was replaced by one completely different.
The Flag—now a CNN Films documentary, by Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker—is ultimately the tale of a nation desperate for a source of strength and finding one in an image of men pushing forward despite devastation. It's the story of the best of our natures and the worst; of how imagery can guide and beguile us, but also of how an instant caught on film became a symbol of grace in the face of hopelessness and despair.