September 20, 2001 08:43 AM

At Martin’s Flag Co. in Ft. Dodge, Iowa, co-owner Scott Van Gundy doesn’t even know how many thousands of flags the store has sold in the past week. The only thing for sure was that his supply could barely keep up with demand, PEOPLE reports in its latest cover story, on how the nation is pulling together in the wake of last week’s tragedy. Day after day, the magazine notes, Van Gundy felt a growing awe at the sense of togetherness. “We can gauge patriotism by the number of flags we sell, and this has been indescribable,” he says. “We’ve never seen anything like it before.” The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., which were designed to sow fear and discord, have brought out the generosity, caring and solidarity of Americans of all kinds. For example, the American Red Cross of Southern California held an event at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles that drew 30,000 contributors in just over four hours. “Little kids have come with their piggy banks,” says spokeswoman Lourdes del Rio-Valdes, who says the effort has so far raised $236,000. In New Orleans the day after the disaster, TV station WDSU started an impromptu drive on the street, asking people to give what they could. By Sunday evening, station personnel were stunned to find they had collected more than $2 million.

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