NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

July 4, 2014

The flagpole still does its job 86 years later

We celebrate at our home on this Fourth of July with a new American flag and what remains of a repainted 86-year-old flagpole.

Ours is but one of America’s flagpoles following those that began reaching skyward in 1777, when the Second Continental Congress passed the Flag Resolution Act.

Fifty years to the day later, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, each of whom had a role in our Declaration of Independence, would die.

The flag of 50 stars we fly speaks to the state-by-state growth of our commitment to freedom, and the prices we have had to pay from time to time to maintain it.

That my family has done it on the same pole at three locations for this long a time may not be of general interest, but its origin might be.

My father, during our Second World War, would fly our nation’s flag from a pole he had made of a tree trunk in 1930 when I was 9 years old.

He had created it from a tree felled together with others on High Street between Carter and Broad, and opposite from where the Newburyport High School occupies what we use to know as Hale’s Hill.

Moving a trimmed tree of that length from High Street to my grandfather’s house on lower Dove Street, and then into the narrow side yard was something I recall to have been a challenge.

Raising it in narrow quarters and flying the American flag above rooftops made for considerable celebration, however, especially for my French Canadian-born grandparents, as well as for the rest of the large family including this 9-year-old.

My recollection is one of celebration, but my grandparents’ home, in which my father was raised, was in the heart of an Irish neighborhood, and I like to think that the flag raising was an attempt to show their commitment to America’s calling.

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