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Old Glory raised at Township Hall

George Thompson turns the crank to raise the flag at Independence Township Hall. Photo by Trevor Keiser (click for larger version)
July 07, 2010 - Tears ran down Joan McCrary's face as she watched World War II veteran George Thompson raise the American Flag during the flag ceremony at Independence Township Hall, July 3.

"It was a momentous occasion," she said. "It was a tearful and emotional scene."

McCrary was an advocate for a flagpole at town hall since the building was purchased in 2008. Independence Township firefighters union decided to help out and raised $4,000 for the project.

"Our guys, just like everybody else, really believe our government buildings should have American flags. We understand the position the township is in. With the budget and all the things going on, we knew a flag would probably not go up on that site for a long time," said Mitch Petterson, firefighters union president. "We can't change a lot of things around here, but the flag was one thing we saw we could do."

McCrary said everyone should thank the firefighters and township board for all their effort.

"It was so well planned and such a good deed by the firefighters," she said. "It was something everyone in the township should have seen."

Petterson said initially they weren't planning on having the flagpole up by the Fourth of July celebration, but when someone mentioned the idea, they all agreed to tackle the goal with ambition.

"For a couple of days, we weren't sure if we were going to get it done by then, simply because it takes them three or four weeks to make the flagpole. They don't have those laying around – they manufacture those to order," he said. "When you call one in and pay for it, that's when they start making it."

After talking to the flagpole company and letting them know of their plans, they promised to have it done before July 4.

"It makes me proud when the guys do something good like this, everybody from the group contributed money to the pole project," Petterson said. "A lot of the guys were out there on their days off doing the work."

Thompson said raising the flag "was awesome."

"They had quite a bit of people there," he said. "It was quite an honor."

The flagpole stands 50 feet and the flag is 10-by-15 feet. Petterson noted the pole was designed to hold two flags. State. Rep. Eileen Kowall gave Supervisor Dave Wagner and the township a State of Michigan Flag to be hung as well. Petterson said they will fly it in the next couple of days.

The ceremony included the American Legion Post 63, Bob Tilley on the bag pipes, Darcel Turner, who sang the National Anthem, as well as representatives from Vietnam Veterans of America and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). Master Sgt. Frank Schuster also presented a flag for inside town hall.

Trustee David Lohmeier called it a "wonderful, nice, meaningful event."

"I thought it was really nicely done and really respectful. I think it was great for the firemen to step forward. They really took a sense of responsibility and they understood we weren't spending money on a flag pole," Lohmeier said. "I like seeing the soldier just back from Iraq, and the flag being raised by someone from World War II. I thought that was really cool."

Petterson's cousin Mark, current township trustee and former U.S. Marine, also was full of emotion during the ceremony.

"I'm just really pleased with anybody who had anything to do with it, it really makes me well up with pride when we come together as a people like that and understand our freedoms are earned and not just given to us," Mark said. "The sacrifice that not only the people in the community, but also our soldiers give for our freedom and I hope it will live in the hearts and minds of all generations to come."

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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