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State Honoree

Gary Hunt

Rhode Island

Gary Hunt, 13, of Woonsocket, R.I., an eighth-grader at Mercymount Country Day School in Cumberland, raised $500 to help build a state memorial to the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks by making and selling American flag pins. Shortly after the tragic attacks, Gary saw a neighbor wearing an American flag pin made with red, white and blue beads. When Gary asked where she got it, the neighbor told him that she had made it herself. “I thought it would be a great idea to make and sell the pins,” said Gary. “Although thousands of people didn’t know who I was, I felt as though my undertaking was filling the void I felt,” Gary said. Gary got his whole family to pitch in. His mother and aunt helped buy supplies, his cousins helped with the assembly, and his father and aunt helped sell the pins. Gary raised five times more than he thought he would, and sent the proceeds to Governor Lincoln Almond, who later asked Gary to take part in the ceremony for the unveiling of the new memorial. “At that point I felt I truly did contribute, and hoped the families realized how in some way so many people felt for them,” said Gary.