Veterans, City Pay Tribute to Old Glory

UTICA, June 14, 2013 – The clouds parted long enough for sunshine to glisten off the steel sculpture of the American Flag on the John Street median strip, where some 40 people gathered to honor Old Glory.

The Flag Day Ceremony -- organized by the American Legion's Harold Provost Post 1686 and Utica Post 229 with the City of Utica -- also honored "all those who serve their community and country with pride," noted coordinator Paul Wojcik of Post 229.

"The United States Flag is a symbol to the world of our country's independence, of our individual liberty, and of our unity as a nation," declared Master of Ceremonies Edward Jackson of Provost Post. "Its history is the history of the American people. Its spirit is our spirit. When we respect the flag, we respect the men and women who sacrificed to build this country and protect its freedom. When we honor the flag, we honor our country, our people, and ourselves."

Color guard squads from Utica Post 229 and the Notre Dame High School JROTC program presented the colors, and veterans came to attention and rendered salutes as Jackson read the words of the national anthem.

But before that closing moment, Jackson asked several dignitaries to say a few words.

William Parks, commander of the Legion's 5th District, pointed to the American Legion's efforts to protect Old Glory, pushing for legislation to make it a crime to desecrate the flag.

Gene Allen brought words of support and gratitude from Mayor Robert Palmieri, who was held up at a press conference about a new hockey team coming to town.

Fire Chief Russell Brooks said he was honored to be among veterans giving honor to the nation's colors.

Provost Post member Herb Thorpe, a World War II Tuskegee airman, said he was delighted to see such a gathering giving honor to the flag and those who served it.

Deputy Chief John Toomey brought words from Police Chief Mark Williams about their appreciation for such an expression of patriotic values.

Provost Post member Marron McLeod noted that the two Legion posts, with the help of the city, restored the steel flag to its lustrous colors last year after being neglected for many years. So it was only fitting, he said, to conduct the first of what he hoped would be many Flag Day ceremonies there.

"All veterans served under that flag," he said.

Flag Day Photo Album

Edward Jackson
Edward Jackson served
as master of ceremonies.

Color Guard
Utica Post 229 Color Guard members Jim McGuire and Dave Valentine stand below the steel replica of Old Glory.