MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Three words you’ve likely heard often on WCCO lately: “More than Names.” Tuesday evening is the unveiling of a project thousands of you have helped us put together.

The flag has more than 120,000 signatures and messages from people around Minnesota honoring military members past and present.

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Wild events manager Jim Vanek is the commander of the operation — a dress rehearsal for the flag — one that requires some heavy lifting.

“I think it was pretty easy when everyone’s got a common goal to recognize those who maybe aren’t recognized as often as they should be,” Vanek said.

Max Huber is one of about 50 people who scrunched up and carried the 500-pound flag through the Xcel Energy Center for a practice run Monday evening. Huber has been doing heavy lifting for a while; he and a team of WCCO staffers worked for months to get around the state to adorn this flag with patriotic support.

“I had current military people who had just signed up who were in high school, who had just joined the guard, to World War II veterans,” Huber said.

The flag weighs about 500 pounds and it took over 500 hours of sewing to put it all together. Justin Whitman works for Banner Creations, the company that put the flag together.

“Let me tell you that thing is not light,” Whitman said.

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Simply folding it was nearly a day-long process.

“It took about 18 man hours to fold it. It took a very long time,” he said.

Whitman did this for his brother who is in the military. Seeing the finished product displayed at the X Tuesday night made him realize that 18 hours of folding was a small sacrifice for something much bigger.

“It’s just been thrilling to see how the whole concept has come together,” Whitman said. “It’s truly a gigantic idea and it’s truly great to see it come together here.”

About 90 people, including Wild fans and veterans, will bring the flag out for the main event.

A courier delivered the completed flag to the Xcel Energy Center Monday. A team of Minnesota Wild and WCCO staffers did a practice run. The rehearsal went well, a march with precision and punctuality.

“It’s not about us, it’s not about WCCO, it’s about the people we want to say thank you to,” Huber said.

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The flag officially has 120,288 signatures, qualifying it for the world record for the most signatures on any flag.

John Lauritsen