The Arms of Project 2,996

Blazon of Arms: Per Pale Sanguine and Argent, a Zinnia ensigned in Chief by four Mullets in Fess enarched all counterchanged

Arms of Project 2,996

Blazon of Mantling and Crest: From a torse of the colors and issuant out of flames a Bald Eagle displayed Proper

Motto: SEMPER – Always

United States Heraldic Registry #20081024B


About the Design:

Project 2,996 is a concept I began in 2006. The premise is to recruit people to pick a victim of 2,996, learn about them, and post about them on their own websites or blogs.

This is the first design that I didn’t handle by myself (at least primarily). Instead I submitted a request to the International Association of Amateur Heralds (and online heraldry organization I belong to), which offers its services to design arms for individuals and companies free of charge.

Sandy Turnbull was the herald assigned to my request. And while we went back and forth on the concept for the design, the finished product is remarkably similar to his initial suggestion. That one still has the four stars, and in the same place, but the bulk of the shield was occupied by a rising dove. I nixed that one for personal reason—I’ve never liked the dove as a symbol of peace. So we kept looking for other ideas to replace the dove. We finally settled on a poppy. The poppy flower has been used as a symbol of remembrance for centuries, and now has a strong link to WWI veterans.

So it seemed that was that. We handed it off to Terry Sauros, also a member of the IAAH, and a fine artist who drew—or emblazoned—the arms.

But both of the heraldry groups I belong to recommend a waiting period between designing the arms, and registering them, and in this case I’ve very glad I took their advice.

On September 11, I realized that I had missed a poetic opportunity in designing these arms.

On 9/11, among the 2,996 people who died was a family of 4. A mother, a father, and two little girls, Dana and Zoe Falkenberg. During the first year I learned about Zoe, and found out that her grandparents have asked for people to plant Zinnias to remember Zoe. Zinnias were her favorite flower, and evidently she was very passionate about them. So two years ago I planted three Zinnias in out front yard, and every time I see them I think of the beautiful smiles of those two little girls.

So as I looked at the picture of the arms of Project 2,996 I wondered why I never thought of using a Zinnia. Thinking more about it, I wondered if replacing the poppy with a Zinnia might help associate the Zinnia with 9/11. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if by linking the Zinnia to 9/11 the memory of Dana and Zoe were able to live on?

So I contacted Sandy, and told him of my idea, and he agreed that a zinnia would make a more concrete connection to 9/11.

So in the final design, the Zinnia represents all of the victims of 9/11. Like a perennial flower their memory blooms each year to remind us of our own lives and our own freedoms. The four stars represent the four planes and the four crash sites.

The colors are sanguine and argent and stand for blood and peace. And the way the shield is colored, with a divided background, and charged of the opposite coloring is called counterchanging, and here it represents the stark change the country and the world went through in one day.

Crest: For the crest I wanted to avoid the image of a Phoenix. Not only is it already an overused symbol relating to 9/11, but it’s also a bad one. The Phoenix rises from the ashes of its own death. And that’s not a metaphor that I like for either the country or for the victims. The eagle rising from flames was Sandy’s first suggestion for a crest and I didn’t see any reason to keep looking.

Motto: The motto means “Always.” It was a simple choice for me, as a way to include the promise that we will never forget.

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