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STS-135: U.S. Honor Flag Bound for Space
It's toured the country and the world to honor the dedication and sacrifice of Americans who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
Now, the U.S. Honor Flag will pay tribute to astronauts as well when it flies aboard space shuttle Atlantis during the Space Shuttle Program's final mission.
During a May 26 ceremony at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida, the flag began its journey to space.
With the visitor complex's Astronaut Memorial Mirror as a backdrop, a 100-member honor guard and bagpipe procession accompanied the flag's arrival.
James K. Loftus, director of the Miami-Dade Police Department, presented flag to Bob Cabana, director of NASA's Kennedy Space Center.
Cabana handed over the flag to veteran astronaut Jerry Ross in preparation for its flight aboard Atlantis.
The handoff was followed by a moment of silence at the memorial, which bears the names of astronauts who have died in the exploration of space.
"The flag honors all the first responders, military and now astronauts who've paid the ultimate price in the service of our country. And I think it's a real privilege for us to be able to take it aboard Atlantis and bring it home safe. It says a lot."
Begun as a tribute following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorists' attacks, the flag flew over Ground Zero at the World Trade Center site for two weeks.
Since then it's served as a traveling memorial to police officers, firefighters and military service members who have lost their lives while serving their communities and country.
Now after visiting more than 1,000 locations on Earth, the flag's next trip will be out of this world.
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