In the aftermath of 9/11, firefighters defiantly raised an American flag atop the rubble at Ground Zero. An iconic symbol of the country's strength and resilience, the flag went missing for years. Brad Meltzer, bestselling author and host of Brad Meltzer's Lost History, became obsessed with tracking it down.
"Everyone remembers that on 9/11 at Ground Zero, the firefighters raised that famous flag. And at this moment of heartbreak for our country, here was a moment of hope," Meltzer explained.
What many don't know is that the flag disappeared later that night.
"So we went on television, the very first episode of Lost History. I told the story. I said, 'Please, if you have it, $10,000 reward. Return it,'" Meltzer said.
That toggled Glenn's memory.
"Hang on just a second. There was a replacement flag that people thought was that flag for a while, wasn't there?" Glenn asked.
Meltzer explained how the flag came down at 11:00 o'clock the night of 9/11, but no knew where it went and assumed the city had taken it down. When images began popping up a few days later, the flag became famous. A flag was signed by the mayor and politicians, raised at Yankee stadium and saluted by U.S. troops --- but it was not the 9/11 flag.
Four days after airing the Lost History episode, a former marine walked into a fire station in Everett, Washington and returned it.
"In Washington State, of all places, across the country. He identifies himself as a former marine and says, 'I don't want your reward. I just want to do the right thing. This is the 9/11 flag, and I want to return it,'" Meltzer said.
The flag went through a lengthy and rigorous testing process before being authenticated and confirmed as the 9/11 flag.
"We officially have found the missing flag from 9/11. It has passed all the tests. It has officially been verified. We, in fact, are unveiling it, and it is now, today, going into the 9/11 museum. It will be unveiled there on display so that you can take your kids and you can take yourself and you can go there to this amazing museum and be inspired. And that was always the real goal --- to finally return it to where it belongs," Meltzer explained.
"That is fantastic. Just fantastic," Glenn said. "What was the evidence that pushed it over the top?"
Meltzer explained how the dust from Ground Zero is like a fingerprint.
"We had the expert who does those cases for all the firefighters on Ground Zero, people who got cancer, they're experts in this dust. And he said, 'The dust at Ground Zero is like a fingerprint. It's made up of not just a building, but it's made up of jet fuel and made up, Glenn, of human remains.'" Meltzer said.
"Oh, my gosh," Glenn said.
"Oh, man," Co-host Pat Gray exclaimed.
The expert said there was no question the flag was from Ground Zero. Eyewitness testimony also confirmed it's the exact flag raised by firefighters on 9/11. One other key factor was the halyard, the hardware that helps raise the flag.
"Most halyards, they're either gold or they're copper or they're silver and some color. And this halyard was very particular. It was handmade. It was made with two separate pieces, and no one knew that. And you can only see it in our high-definition pictures," Meltzer said.
"Oh, wow. Oh, wow," Glenn responded.
An hour-long special airs this Sunday on the History Channel called The 9/11 Flag: Rise From the Ashes. It details the discovery and investigation.
In addition to the History Channel special, Meltzer has also just released a new children's book from his "Ordinary People Change the World" series.
"This one is I Am George Washington. I read through it, and it's a powerful book. The lesson is on how to be like George Washington," Glenn said.
Listen to this segment from The Glenn Beck Program:
Featured Image: An American flag, erected by rescue workers, stands in the wreckage of the World Trade Center September 13, 2001 in New York City, two days after the twin towers were destroyed when two hit by two hijacked passenger jets. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)