SCOTTSDALE (3TV/CBS 5) - Valley resident Randy Cooney is the one who originally came up with the idea after Sept. 11, 2001, to sew a flag containing all 50 states (and six other U.S. territories) into one giant flag. The only problem? Cooney didn't know how to sew.
But his friend Cathy Wallace did, and with some help from a few advanced seamstresses in the Valley, the nearly three-story-high National Unity Flag came to be, forming lifelong connections along the way. "It was majestic and actually very somber," Wallace said. "And special."
Wallace can still remember the moment the Unity Flag was finished like it was yesterday. "It was such an honor to be part of creating something that just was so symbolic of the unity that we all strive for," Wallace said.
All in all, Wallace worked with six other sewists. Some were her students at Ironwood High School.
Others, like Karen Housner, were from the Arizona Quilters Guild. "Just getting to be a part of that project was just everything," Housner said.
A 20-year reunion has allowed some of those involved to add perspective.
"Back in high school, it was just a project," former Ironwood High school student Jamie Amaro said. "For now, doing it and bringing a lot of people back together hits my heart."
Amaro was one of Wallace's students who participated in sewing the flag. Now she's passing the memories on to those who weren't around 20 years ago, like her daughter Marissa. "This is a big flag, and I hope I can make an impact like that later in my life," Marissa said. "Or even now in high school."
As another reunion comes to an end, those involved inevitably go their separate ways, some thousands of miles away. Staying in touch isn't always easy but it's a priority as long as the flag is around. "I've got a bond with these people that I don't have with anybody else," Housner said.
The flag will remain on display through Sunday at the Scottsdale Center for Performing Arts. The center is open on Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.