After 29-year-old Jonathan Ielpi was killed while responding to the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, the fallen firefighter's sister Melissa Brengel was given an American flag that flew over the WTC during the clean-up. "We put it out during certain times of the year just to remember," she tells NBC New York. But now it's been taken from her—it was in her yard late Monday, but gone by 5:15am yesterday.
"I don't think there's a way [the thief] could have known, but at the same time, they're coming onto my property and taking something that means so much to me and so many Americans," she says, adding that her flag was taken instead of other American flags hanging at her neighbors' houses. Brengel's father is retired from the FDNY, and her other brother also works for the department. "It hurts me and all of them that somebody could do something like this," she says. She's hoping the publicity will spur the thief to return the flag. (Read more American flag stories.)