The Voices From the Flag Tour continues and today, we’re meeting Jennifer Hatcher-a New York Says Thank You volunteer and flag stitcher. Jennifer shared about her late husband Lloyd Hatcher who was a member of the National 9/11 Flag Tour Honor Guard. We’ll be traveling to Mena, AR and Baltimore, MD to hear all about Lloyd’s role in those special stitching ceremonies and how even after his passing, the flag played a special role in honoring his life. Read more below about Jennifer and Lloyd’s story and follow along at #VoicesFromTheFlagTour to learn more!
“On April 9, 2009, there was a devastating tornado in Mena, Arkansas . My husband, Lloyd Hatcher, and I volunteered to help pick up with Americorps. Then, I read in the local paper (we had retired to Hot Springs, Arkansas in 2003) that the firefighters from New York were coming to Mena, Arkansas and bringing the 911 flag. If you know anything about firefighters, they are a true brotherhood, and Lloyd wanted to be part of the escort effort.
When the flag arrived in Little Rock, AR, when it reached Garland Country, Lloyd was in full uniform and had our red mini van with a red light on top. He escorted the 911 flag to Hot Springs Airport where the FDNY firefighters unfurled the flag and allowed the residents to hold the edges to experience feeling the flag from the 911 site. This was very important to the Flag Tour staff to share this experience with the community members at every stop.
The flag then proceeded to Mena, Arkansas where it was displayed for local residents to place a stitch to repair the flag, which eventually would be placed in the National 911 Memorial & Museum. Mena is where Lloyd and I first stitched the flag.
Lloyd and I continued to assist in the flag tour, as it was connected at the time to the New York Says Thank You Foundation, which did annual rebuilds to areas hit by natural disasters. In addition to traveling to Mena, Arkansas, we also traveled with the flag to Joplin, Missouri, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and to the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House Museum in Baltimore, Maryland where three threads from the original Star-Spangled Banner Flag were stitched into the Maryland patch of the National 9/11 Flag. Lloyd was really sick with cancer at this time but since he was part of the Honor Guard, he wanted to be there for the stitching. Lloyd and I are very proud to be American and love the flag. Lloyd and I were devastated about 911 in respect that the country was attacked but also so many firefighters lost their lives.
Lloyd was a volunteer firefighter in River Forest, Illinois from 1980 till we retired in 2003. Then he was a firefighter in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas from 2003 till 2011 when he was diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer and we moved to Houston, Texas for treatment. Firefighters are a very strong brotherhood. Once you are in that family you are in for life. Lloyd Hatcher was loved and respected by his firefighter peers. Jimmy Sands, Honor Guard Coordinator, became very close to Lloyd when he was diagnosed with his aggressive prostate cancer. I was so proud of Lloyd for being chosen to be part of the Honor Guard for the flag. That was a BIG privilege as only a few were asked outside the FDNY firefighters.
When Lloyd died in 2013 the firefighters in Hot Springs Village asked if they could plan Lloyd’s funeral. I was honored and pleased they would do that. They arranged to have the 911 flag drape the sanctuary of the church at Lloyd’s funeral. That was the most touching experience for me with the flag, and although Lloyd was only there in spirit I know he would have been deeply touched and proud.”