LOUDOUN, Va – An American flag that purportedly flew over the Pentagon (search) on Sept. 11 (search) was burned by a man who said he wanted to end questions of authenticity over the banner he bought for $25,000.
John A. Andrews II, a general contractor and developer, successfully bid for the flag on eBay and planned to fly it over the new Newton-Lee Elementary School (search) in Ashburn, named for two passengers on American Airlines Flight 77 (search), which crashed into the Pentagon.
But amid continuing questions, Andrews burned the nylon flag Wednesday.
"Since the purchase of this flag, the controversy over its legitimacy has continued," said Andrews, Loudoun's school board chairman. "For the victims' families and the community as a whole, it's a small price to pay to put the issue to rest."
Andrews said the school investigated the continuing doubts raised about the authenticity "and in all our research we couldn't find anyone who could swear it was there."
With the help of two Boy Scouts and the Loudoun County Boy Scout (search) commissioner, Andrews and others held the flag as the stars were cut from the stripes and the banner was dissected into four pieces. The sections were then tossed into a fire in a metal drum filled with oak logs.
The disposal followed one of several methods outlined in Scout protocol.
In March, David Nicholson offered the flag, he said, to help secure his family's future. He has kidney cancer.
Nicholson, who had owned an auction house in rural Orange, said he got the flag in 2002 from a friend who worked construction and said the flag was flying atop one of his company's cranes at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.
An initial eBay auction drew a successful bid of $371,300, but the bidder would not honor the sale because of questions about its authenticity raised by Facchina Construction Co., which denied having a flag flying from a crane during the attack.
Contacted Thursday, Nicholson said of the flag burning, "I don't agree with it, but it's a free country.
"I would have liked to have this flag back but I'm fighting this cancer."
Nicholson, who said his cancer has progressed to Stage 4, said an Oct. 27 court date has been scheduled in his lawsuit against Facchina Construction. He is seeking the difference between the initial bid for the flag and the $25,000 bid by Andrews.