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‘I am so sorry,’ Thief returns stolen 9/11 flag with apology note

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American flag

(CNN) – A family was devastated after a flag that was given to them following the death of a loved one went missing.

Melissa Ielpi-Brengel was given an American flag to honor her brother, 29-year-old Jonathan Ielpi.

Ielpi was a member of the New York City Fire Department and was killed in the September 11 terror attacks.

“We put the flag out certain times of the year just to remember,” Ielpi-Brengel told WPIX.

Recently, she decided to mount the flag, which once flew over recovery efforts at ground zero, outside her home for the Fourth of July.

When she went outside just a few days before the holiday, the flag was gone.

“There are other flags out, and for whatever reason they came here and took ours. Coming on to my property and taking something that means so much to me and to so many Americans,” she said.

She immediately took to social media, pleading for help finding the missing flag.

Just in time for the Fourth of July, the flag was returned with a note.

“I am sorry, I had no idea,” the note read.

Ielpi-Brengel took to Facebook to share the good news and says she hoped the thieves learned a lesson.