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On Friday, Aug. 19, 2022, members of a relay team ran through Vernon and Brattleboro,  as part of a 140-mile trek through four states for the Run for the Fallen campaign to honor and remember military members that died during the War on Terror.

BRATTLEBORO — For a handful of people gathered in front of the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center Friday morning, seeing the flag that hung over the destruction of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, and the days after was incredibly heart-touching.

“I worked under that flag for a little while,” said Brattleboro Police Chief Norma Hardy, about the iconic flag that swirled above Ground Zero as rescuers swarmed over the site.

The flag was briefly in Brattleboro, escorted by runners with the New England Run for the Fallen, which was established by Honor and Remember Inc. to run specific miles for every New England service member killed as a result in serving during the War on Terror, including Operation Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom and New Dawn.

In Brattleboro, the runners paused at the museum before jogging across the Kyle Gilbert Bridge.

Kyle Charles Gilbert, the only child of Robert Gilbert and Regina Meckle, was 20 years, six months and 21 days old when he was killed by a sniper in Iraq in 2003.

“It’s an honor,” said Robert Gilbert, about seeing the flag come through Brattleboro. “I think it’s great what they’re doing.”

Gilbert noted that it’s been nearly two decades since his boy was killed, but it’s something you never get over.

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He said it made him feel good to see the flag.

“Because they remembered,” said Gilbert, who recalled traveling to Charlotte, N.C., in May 2021 for a NASCAR race in which his son’s name was on the car of Anthony Alfredo, who was driving No. 38, a black Ford Mustang.

“They had a ceremony before the race where they got all the Gold Star parents together with soldiers from the 82nd Airborne,” said Gilbert, his voice cracking with emotion. “I actually found myself looking for Kyle in those kids.”

“It was heartwarming,” said Michael Earp, Kyle Gilbert’s uncle, about seeing the flag.

Earp, who served in the Marine Corps, said he had only one word for the runners who brought the flag across his nephew’s bridge: “Thanks.”

Hardy was with the Port Authority Police Department of New York and New Jersey for 26 years before coming to Brattleboro to take the top cop job.

During the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993, she played an important role evacuating people who were underground and dangerously close to the bomb explosion site, states information from the 9/11 Tribute Museum.

Then, on the morning of Sept. 11, her mother called her at home in New Jersey and told her a plane had hit the World Trade Center. Hardy rushed to the scene, working on the bucket brigades, long lines of people who searched the enormous field of steel and pulverized material inch by inch.

“I was actually very surprised when I heard they were actually bringing the flag to Brattleboro,” she said. “I am very happy and very honored to have it stop here.”

Bob Audette can be contacted at raudette@reformer.com.