The flag is still there. Or, rather, it's back.

After an absence of a few days, a mural of an American flag has returned to a hillside above Interstate 680 in Sunol — just in time for the Fourth of July.

Caltrans had obliterated the previous mural, but thanks to two patriots, the colors of Old Glory are once again visible.

On Saturday, the two men climbed the steep hill above the highway near the Sunol Grade and painted a bold new red, white and blue flag to replace the mural that a Caltrans crew painted over earlier in the week, news reports said.

"I thought it was kind of rude for them to cover it a couple days before Fourth of July," Steve Giordano told a CBS 5 reporter.

Giordano and another man, Jim Gallagher, decided to restore the flag mural Caltrans painted over, proving that good, old-fashioned American ingenuity and the can-do spirit are not dead.

News of Caltrans' action touched off a furor nationwide and prompted an apology Friday from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

East Bay residents R.J. Waldron, Eric Noda and Thomas Hanley painted the 35-foot mural on Sept. 24, 2001, to honor those who died in the Sept. 11 terror attacks. The giant flag, which covered a giant concrete siding, was on state property.

Caltrans spokesman Allyn Amsk told Bay Area News Group Wednesday that it had recently come to his department's attention that the flag was on state land without permission.


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"We don't allow graffiti on state property," Amsk said. "No matter what kind of graffiti it is, we don't show favoritism."

Waldron, Noda and Hanley had vowed to repaint the flag, but it looks as though Giordano and Gallagher beat them to the punch.

Contact Janis Mara at 925-952-2671. Follow her at Twitter.com/jmara.