Memorable flag lowered

For two weeks a year, a flag that once flew above the rubble of the World Trade Center at 1 Liberty Plaza rises again in Lower Manhattan, this time in Chinatown.

John Casalinuovo worked on the pile after 9/11, and the stewardship of the six-story-tall flag fell to him after his work was done. He keeps it in his home at 116 Mott St., unfurling it only for occasional parades and each year’s anniversary of 9/11, when he drapes the flag over his building.

Casalinuovo and dozens of fellow ground zero volunteers lowered and folded the flag at sunset Sat., Sept. 20, marking off the end of another anniversary.

Casalinuovo and his wife Denise arrived at the W.T.C. site together on Sept. 12, 2001 at 4:30 a.m., ready to do any task they were assigned. They and others thought it was important to have an American flag to look up at as they were working. The company that made the flag halted all other production to get it to ground zero faster.

This year’s gathering was darkened by the fact that many of Casalinuovo’s friends are getting sick from what they believe is their exposure at ground zero.

“You didn’t think about it back then,” Casalinuovo said before the flag-lowering ceremony. “Our only concern was, ‘Who can we help?’”