A R L I N G T O N, Va., July 7, 2002 -- Thousands of Virginia drivers are planning to keep displaying the red, white and blue long after this Fourth of July week has come and gone.
Since the Pentagon's official U.S. address is Arlington, Va., when the building was hit on Sept. 11, the residents of Arlington felt the impact much as the residents of New York were affected by the attack on the World Trade Center.
Now, Arlington and the commonwealth of Virginia are honoring the victims of that day with a new license plate.
"A new law that I sponsored went into effect authorizing a new Virginia license plate urging citizens to fight terrorism," said Delegate Bob Hull, D-Fairfax, as he unveiled the new "Fight Terrorism" license plate this week.
"The plate's design incorporates a logo in remembrance of the attacks on the Pentagon, the World Trade Center and the crash of United Flight 93 in Pennsylvania on Sept. 11," Hull said.
The "Remembrance" plate features a pentagon with an American flag inside. Above the flag, the date 9/11/01 is inscribed. The number "11" is elongated so it looks like two columns, representing the twin towers of New York's World Trade Center.
License Plates‘Give Us Strength’
The first license plate was presented to Sheri Burlingame in an outdoor ceremony. Burlingame is the widow of Capt. Charles Burlingame, who was killed when the plane he had been piloting, American Airlines Flight 77, crashed into the Pentagon.
"For the families who lost a loved one, each day brings new pain and requires more courage," said Burlingame.
She said the commemorative license plates "give us strength and remind us we are not alone" and encouraged other states to offer patriotic plates.
An Arlington County police officer handed the first plate, which was mounted on an inscribed plaque, to an emotional Burlingame. The inscription ended with, "Mrs. Burlingame, this is an honor, not of a victim, but of a true American hero. Thank you very much."
Showing Solidarity on the Road
Hull said the plates are a way for average Americans to show solidarity with police and firefighters who responded to the attacks and to remember those who died.
The design was discovered on a makeshift memorial outside the Pentagon and traced to Texas graphic artist David Paranteau, but Hull said the idea for the license plate came from a constituent.
"When I heard what he had in mind, I said not 'yes,' but 'hell yes,' " Hull said.
Virginia's Department of Motor Vehicles has taken about 2,000 orders for the new plates, which cost an extra $10. DMV Commissioner Ab Quillian said they began processing the orders this week, and hope to have them ready for customers in August, just short of the one-year mark since the attacks.
People living outside Virginia can purchase a mockup of the plate for $20.