Local volunteer chosen to help stitch national 9/11 flag

Delaware Hospice volunteer and Dagsboro resident Nancy Palmer was recently able to join a select few Americans chosen to stitch the New York Says Thank You Foundation’s National 9/11 Flag.

“The National 9/11 Flag is one of the largest American flags to fly above the wreckage at Ground Zero,” explains the foundation’s Web site. “Destroyed in the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks on Sept. 11 and stitched back together seven years later by tornado survivors in Greensburg, Kansas, the National 9/11 Flag is a living testament to the resilience and compassion of the American people.”

“It was a very moving experience,” said Palmer of her experience. “I’m a native New Yorker. I was born in Manhattan. My husband was a British sea captain and, for a time, he worked in the World Trade Center and knew many people that worked in that area. It was very moving, and to hear the other stories of the other people that were there was heart-wrenching.”

Palmer was one of eight people who was chosen as a service hero to stitch the flag.

“I was honored. How could you not be, especially if you’re from the area?” she said. “I also have a granddaughter in Afghanistan.”

Palmer was nominated by Delaware Hospice Volunteer Coordinator Mary Costello, who said Palmer is an excellent volunteer.

“She has been a wonderful volunteer. I knew she had some experience with 9/11 in New York and helps with our Memory Bears, so I felt it was very appropriate for her to be helping stitch the flag,” said Costello.

“They asked me if I would go up there and represent myself and Hospice in the stitching of this flag,” added Palmer.

Palmer actually helped the hospice start their Memory Bear program three years ago.

“Memory Bears are teddy bears made from the clothing of someone that you’ve lost. They send me the clothes, and they tell me what they want done with them – I have no idea who these people are – and I make teddy bears,” she explained.

“Since one of my hobbies has always been sewing — I made all my kids’ clothes when they were little and my daughters’ wedding dresses when they got married — when they said they wanted to start this program, I kind of felt God tapping me on the shoulder and saying, ‘You know, Nancy, it’s time you did this.’”

Since then, Palmer has helped make more than 200 Memory Bears for bereaved families.

“I know some people just don’t understand how you can work with death and dying, but there is a big need and I love what I do.”

Palmer has been a volunteer with Delaware Hospice since 2003 and said she has always been interested in hospice work.

“I’m a retired RN. My mother was a Hospice worker. And I lost my husband to cancer and had hospice for him,” she explained. “I just feel it is an important thing to do.”

Palmer is an active volunteer in other organizations, including Meals on Wheels, and sings in her church choir and the AARP choir, which tour nursing homes and entertain residents. She added that there is always a need at the hospice for volunteers in all capacities, and people should consider giving their time to Delaware Hospice.