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Mission and Vision | History of the Freedom Flag | Board Member Bios | Organizational Structure

History of the Freedom Flag

On the evening of September 20, 2001, Richard Melito sat in his restaurant in Richmond, Virginia and sketched a symbol commemorating the events which occurred nine days earlier. His intention was to create a symbol for display on the wall within his establishment that would always remind his patrons of the tragedy and triumph of September 11, 2001. Sixteen months later the Freedom Flag became a part of Virginia history when it was designated the state’s official symbol of remembrance honoring the victims and heroes of 9/11by then Governor Mark Warner. Raising the Freedom Flag has become part of the traditional Patriot Day observation in schools throughout the Commonwealth. The Freedom Flag Project calls for schools to formalize an annual tradition of raising and flying the Freedom Flag below the American Flag on September 11th, creating a unique reminder to future generations of the victims, heroes, and survivors of that day.

The Freedom Flag Foundation, formed in 2002, is a 501(C)(3) organization with an active operating board made up of Richmonders, who are united in the cause of advancing the Freedom Flag Project.  In order to commemorate the 15th anniversary of 9/11 and to generate renewed momentum for the Freedom Flag Project, the Foundation is currently in the process of a $2 million fundraising process to construct and maintain the Virginia 9/11 Memorial.  The memorial will be located in Henrico County, Virginia, where the design for the Freedom Flag originated. At the same time, the Foundation is working on developing grade appropriate lesson plans that will reinforce our commitment to “never forget” and promote a more thorough understanding among our young citizens of the rights, responsibilities, duties and sacrifices required to maintain a free society.  In addition, the Freedom Flag Foundation has developed a substantial network of support through its relationships with many state and national educational associations and organizations.  In addition, numerous local, state and national government leaders have fully endorsed the message of the Freedom Flag.

With your involvement and support, we can move forward to provide the Nation’s school children the same learning experience available to students in Virginia, thus keeping the promise to honor the memories of 9/11 and teach a rising generation about the rights, obligations, and duties of citizenship in the United States of America. Together, we can transform the aftermath of September 11, 2001, into a positive learning experience that will empower our children as they become tomorrow’s leaders.

The Freedom Flag Foundation is a 501 (C)(3) public charity created to oversee the distribution of the Freedom Flag into schools, colleges, and universities and to work toward establishing an annual tradition of remembrance within the educational community that honors the victims, heroes, and survivors of September 11, 2001.


The Freedom Flag Foundation was first envisioned in November of 2001. This was a direct result of a recognized interest in the flag by the educational community. It became apparent that the Freedom Flag had a significant visceral effect on teachers who viewed it and requested copies of there own for use in their classrooms. This recognized acceptance and popularity of the Freedom Flag allowed Richard Melito, the flag's designer, to expand on his purpose for the flag. By December 2001 it seemed obvious that the flag would need a vehicle through which its purpose could be directed. Groundwork began in January of 2002 for the formation of a non-profit foundation with an appropriate mission statement and goals to support its mission. The Freedom Flag Foundation was registered in the Commonwealth of Virginia in May of 2002 and received its initial status as a 501(c)(3) by the Internal Revenue Service in November of 2002. It currently operates out of Richmond, Virginia. Four Richmond area residents serve in the Board of Trustees.

The Foundation generates revenue through sponsorship fees it receives for the Freedom Flag Project. Funds are used by the Foundation to purchase inventory, produce print materials, and offset some operational expenses. With increased participation in the school sponsorship program the Freedom Flag Foundation will establish a fully operational office with a staff whose purpose shall be the promotion and distribution of the Freedom Flag, the creation of teaching resource materials that can be used on future September 11ths, and an interactive website that will offer free educational resources to help teach students to honor, remember, revisit, and learn from those catastrophic events of September 11, 2001.

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Board Member Bios

Bruce D. Perretz, AIA is the founder and President of Perretz & Young Architects, P.C. . Bruce was raised in Richmond, Va. and is 1978 graduate of Virginia Tech with a Bachelor of Architecture. He and his wife Mary have three grown children. Margo is a senior at VCU and both Alex and David are currently serving in the United States Army, and were inspired to serve their country after the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Bruce is drawn to the Freedom Flag Foundation’s mission because of his passion to serve and to honor his children.

Robert H. Witte, Jr. is Co-owner of Viking Builders, LLC and a managing partner in Witte Home Solutions, LLC. Bob is a retired Henrico County Fire Captain with 30 years of service. He is also a member of the Henrico County Board of Zoning Appeals. Bob has been very active in service organizations around the Richmond area for many years. He and his wife, Kathleen have four children. Bob has been a member of The Freedom Flag Foundation for the past year and will be instrumental in the fund-raising campaign for the Virginia 9-11 Memorial and Flags for the Nation.

Frederick P. Meyer is a member of the Freedom Flag Foundation Board and is currently the Territory Manager for the Luck Stone Corporation. Fred is a native of Richmond and has B.A. in Political Science from Virginia Commonwealth University. Fred has served on the Freedom Flag Board for this past year and has been instrumental in the construction details of the granite monument. Fred’s experience in community service and fund-raising will be an asset to the foundation.

Milt Burton is the CEO and owner of Op Excellence, LLC a management consulting firm. Milt’s expertise in management and strategic planning is valuable to The Freedom Flag Foundation. Milt’s involvement in The Freedom Flag Foundation stems from the desire to “do all that we can as Americans” to prevent another attack on our nation. His daughter was one of the 2976 victims of the terrorist attacks of 9-11-2001. The Freedom Flag Foundation’s mission is well aligned with his own in keeping the lessons learned that day in the forefront of the minds of all Americans.  

Richard N. Melito is the owner of Melito’s Restaurant which was established in 1981. In 2001 Richard designed the Freedom Flag, and in 2002 he founded The Freedom Flag Foundation. Richard is currently the Secretary of the Freedom Flag Foundation. The Freedom Flag was recognized by Governor Mark Warner and the State of Virginia as the state’s symbol of remembrance. The Freedom Flag Foundation’s mission statement is to educate school children and make sure that Americans will not forget the acts of terrorism against our nation. Richard’s passion to live the mission is the main force behind the project.

John D. Riley P.E. is a traffic engineer and project manager with Bowman Consulting Group. Previously, he served in a similar capacity with Kimley Horn and Associates, the consulting civil engineers for the Virginia 9-11 Memorial. John holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in civil engineering as well as a B.A. in Spanish, all from Virginia Tech. On September 11, 2001, John lost one of his best friends in the attacks on the World Trade Center. John's expertise is in engineering. His desire to remember the victims of 9-11 has made the Freedom Flag Foundation's current mission a passionate cause for him.

Mary Elizabeth Daniel (Libby) is retired from Powhatan County Public Schools after 22 years in educational administration. Libby holds a B. A. from N. C. State University and a M. S. W. from Virginia Commonwealth University. Previously Libby worked for The N. C. Department of Mental Health in evaluation services for children and families. Libby is married to Carl R. Daniel and they have one son, Scott who lives in Charlotte, N. C. She serves on The Freedom Flag Foundation Board where her passion for and experience in education can contribute to The Board's mission of remembrance and triumph for generations of children.

Joshua Dickerson is a Quality Assurance Analyst for Celerity, currently working with Capital One. Joshua holds 2 degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University. The first degree is in Political Science and the second is in Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. Joshua was part of one of the first classes in the country to receive such a degree. His hope is that with bi-partisan support, at all levels of government, the monument to remember all those lost on September 11, 2001 can be constructed.

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Freedom Flag Foundation Organizational Structure

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