By Donna Thornton/News Editor
Many people in northeast Alabama and beyond have been awed and humbled by the story of Corey Garmon, a Sardis City native, who was seriously injured while serving as a cavalry scout in Afghanistan, and how he has battled back from his injuries.
Garmon was among those in awe July 16 in Boaz, as the National 9/11 Flag was displayed during a kick-off celebration for the construction of the Garmon’s new home.
“That was pretty awesome,” Garmon said, after the flag had been folded and returned to a protective bag. “They kind of threw us a curveball with that.”
Garmon said he’s also been invited to participate when the flag is taken to California so that flags or threads from flags carried by Navy Seal Team 6 can be added. Then the flag will be returned to New York for display in National September 11 Memorial and Museum.
The flag was rescued by Charles Vitchers, who was superintendent of the clean up at Ground Zero. He said after spending nine months work at Ground Zero it was obvious to him that many people joined the military immediately after 9/11. His son was one who joined, and he said his family, like the Garmons and so many others were left waiting for the phone call about a loved one being injured, or worse.
He helped found H.O.N.O.R.S. – Housing Our Nation’s Outstanding Returning Soldiers – as a way to help injured soldiers coming home.
“So many soldiers were coming home after giving so much, and leaving the hospital with so little to look forward to,” Vitchers said.
Garmon was selected as the first soldier to receive an adaptive home, built through the coordinating efforts of Vitchers’ organization and contributing businesses in his community.
Several businesses that have agreed to participate were represented July 16 at the kick-off celebration at the Boaz VFW. An organizational meeting involving those business representatives and H.O.N.O.R.S. personnel followed the celebration.
The home to be built for Garmon and his wife Megan will be in Guntersville, and expected to be completed in the spring.
In the meantime, Megan said the couple would return to their apartment near Walter Reed so that Garmon can undergo a final surgery and more physical therapy. He will face medical evaluations before he can be medically retired from the military, Megan said, and must have the final surgery before that process begins.
In September, the Garmons anticipate the birth of their daughter, to be named Kyleigh.
“We’re ready to have this little girl,” Megan said.
Unfurling a unique flag
While speakers were addressing those gathered at the VFW barn, the wail of sirens could be heard in the distance as fire trucks from Boaz and Guntersville approached, bringing the National 9/11 Flag. The crowd moved out of the barn as the trucks pulled onto the fairgrounds and Corey Garmon, his father Chris and VFW Post 6837 Commander Tommy Ward carried the folded and bagged flag from the truck.
Veterans were called up to help unfold the one-sided flag, a process that required a group to raise the flag up so another could walk underneath it to pull out the folds. As they stretch the flag out, everyone was invited to come forward and hold the edge of the historic article for a moment.
The flag was flying from a scaffold at a construction site near the World Trade Centers on Sept. 11, 2001. In the days after the attacks, Vitchers rescued the damaged flag, and since then it has gone through a reconstruction that has woven the threads of the nation’s history into a patchwork testament to the nation’s perseverance.
The flag was reconstructed seven years later by tornado survivors in Greensboro, Ken., according to information available at the celebration. It has been stitched by soldiers and school children that survived the shooting at Ft. Hood, Texas, by World War II veterans on the deck of the USS Missouri in Pearl Harbor, by the family of Martin Luther King Jr., by 20 members of congress and by thousands of everyday service heroes across the nation.
On President Lincoln’s birthday, a piece of the flag that Abraham Lincoln was laid on after he was shot at Ford’s Theater was stitched into the flag. It was presented as the official flag for the Kentucky Derby in 2011, and on Sept. 11, 2011, 1,067 tornado survivors in Joplin, Missouri sewed the final restorative patches into the flag.
On Flag Day, 2012, threads from the original Star-Spangled Banner flag that flew at Fort McHenry and inspired the writing of the national anthem were stitched into the National 9/11 Flag. The flag was returned to its original format by stitching in fabric from American flags destined for retirement in all 50 states.