For the past 12 years, the mystery of the missing 9/11flag has set the whole country on a scavenger hunt -- including locals in San Diego.
You remember the iconic image: three New York firefighters raising the three-by-five-foot flag above the Twin Tower collapse.
That flag went missing six hours after the photo was taken.
A documentary about the disappearance triggered several possible sightings, one of them recently at the Elks Lodge of Escondido.
Despite the rumors, it's not the 9/11 flag flying above the Elks Lodge in Escondido. However, you could call it the “7-11 flag” because it was purchased this year on Jul. 11.
The Elks Club, albeit a benevolent organization, is not military-based. But, after meeting the membership, you might understand why someone thought they saw that famous flag there.
The very idea that the 9/11 flag is somewhere in the building sent lodge trustee Marsha Frankin into inventory overload.
You see, Elks Lodge 1687, is Escondido's depot for the torn and tattered; the last stop before ceremonial destruction.
“Even a portion of that flag, if it were in this lodge, would be protected,” Frankin told NBC 7.
The lodge exhibits patriotic displays and holds a 9/11 memorial service each year. So, the rumor of someone saying the flag was here, was exciting.
“I like that. We are patriotic,” Frankin said.
The longest serving member at the lodge is 88-year-old World War II veteran Norman Maxwell.
He just happened to be on the USS Healy that day when another famous flag was raised, in Iwo Jima.
“I'll tell you a story about a flag. We were stationed off of Mount Suribachi, we were looking through these high-powered binoculars. We saw it we saw the whole thing,” Maxwell recalled.
At 19 years old, Maxwell had no idea what an inspiration that image would have for generations to come. Instead, he only knew what it meant to him.
“It's just the way we were brought up to love your country, to love your flag, love everything about being an American,” Maxwell said.
As for the mysterious 9/11 flag, there’s no telling where it will turn up.
But, if it showed up at the Elks Lodge of Escondido, it would be right at home with the rest of the national treasures.
The membership agrees the lodge likely ended up on the tipster list because the new flag, set against a brighter-than-usual display light, is getting a lot of attention.
Their flag, however, was purchased online and came in original packaging.