Thief Returns Deceased 9/11 Firefighter's Flag with Apology

07/07/2014 at 08:30 AM EDT

4th of July: Stolen 9/11 American Flag Returned to Firefighter's Family
Jonathan Ielpi and the American flag returned to Ielpi's family
Ielpi Family/AP; Courtesy Melissa Ielpi
An American flag stolen from the family of a firefighter killed on Sept. 11 has been returned with a note that says: "I am so sorry, I had no idea."

NBC New York reports that the flag was returned Thursday. It has resumed flying on the porch of Melissa Brengel's home in Huntington Station on New York's Long Island.

Brengel's brother, Jonathan Ielpi, was 29 when he died at the World Trade Center in 2001.

Thief Returns Deceased 9/11 Firefighter's Flag with Apology| Crime & Courts, Independence Day, Good Deeds, Real People Stories

Courtesy Melissa Ielpi

The family believes the flag was stolen last Monday or early Tuesday. Brengel says, "We put it out during certain times of the year just to remember."



Brengel posted the good news on Facebook, thanking followers of the story for their support. She is unsure who originally took the flag or why, but she is happy the thief ultimately chose to do the right thing.

Brengel says the flag is important to her family not only for its meaning, but also because of where it flew before. The September 11th Families Association gave her the flag after it flew over the World Trade Center ruins during the recovery process following Sept. 11.


Thief Returns Deceased 9/11 Firefighter's Flag with Apology| Crime & Courts, Independence Day, Good Deeds, Real People Stories

The 9/11 'Survivor Tree'


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