.- A U.S. flag that has appeared at every World Youth Day over the past decade in remembrance of 9/11 victims has arrived in Madrid.
The flag originally belonged to the family of a young Catholic woman from Brooklyn who was killed in the 2001 terror attack on the World Trade Center.
“This flag was given to the family of Suzanne Geraty,” said Fr. Gerard Sauer, chaplain to the World Youth Day pilgrims from the Brooklyn diocese.
“She was a parishioner of mine and I buried her,” he told CNA.
Thirty-year-old Suzanne was a systems support worker for the financial services company Cantor Fitzgerald.
“So we honor her and all those who perished in 9/11 by bringing this flag to World Youth Day,” said Fr. Sauer, parish priest of St. Mel’s Church in Flushing.
This is the flag’s fourth World Youth Day. It was first carried to Toronto, Canada in 2002, then onto Cologne, Germany in 2005 and, most recently, to Sydney, Australia in 2008.
Today it led several hundred young pilgrims from the Diocese of Brooklyn towards their first destination -- the opening ceremony for English-speaking pilgrims at Madrid’s Palacio de Deportes stadium.
“Well it means a lot to me that I was chosen as the flag bearer today,” said 17-year-old Andrew Patrick from St. Patrick’s parish in Brooklyn as he made his way through the sun-baked streets of Madrid.
“I just feel very proud of my country, very proud that I’m able to do this, very honored. And I’m glad that I can do this for my country.”
Walking behind Andrew were fellow pilgrims who seemed equally moved to be taking part today.
“Yes, it means a lot to me. I know plenty of friends who lost family members in 9/11. I’m just proud to be an American today as we’ve been able to bounce back and stand up for what we believe in,” said 17-year-old Christopher De Sciora, also from St. Patrick’s in Brooklyn.
“I really think it’s important to remember 9/11. I was only in the fourth grade when it happened, but it really changed the way we look at the world. So we should never forget,” said 19-year-old Matthew Freeze from Our Lady of Angels parish in Brooklyn.
Next month marks the 10th anniversary of the series of terror attacks upon the U.S. that claimed the lives of over 3,000 people in one day.
“This flag represents our city, our state, our country and an event that the whole world felt, actually,” concluded Fr. Sauer.