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Flag Day recognized by local Exchange clubs

The American flag. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Master Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol)

HAVERHILL — Ever since our nation’s flag was created in 1777 it has served as a source of pride, inspiration and as a beacon of light and hope. The flag also serves to remember those who died to keep our nation free.

For the Exchange Club of Lawrence and the Andovers, the Field of Honor the club displays each year on the North Andover Town Common is a way for people to honor those in the military and those who died serving their country. This is the sixth year of the display.

From its installation on May 20 in honor of Memorial Day to this Saturday in honor of Flag Day and National Flag Week, the town common is ablaze with 372, 3-by-5-foot flags.

Exchange members Bob Wescott of Andover and Mike Sousa of North Andover sell flags for $50 including a laminated, commemorative tag.

“Following our dedication ceremony this Saturday, people who purchased a flag for $50 can take it home,” Wescott said. “If they choose to donate it to us for reuse next year, then we charge just $30.”

He said his club expects to raise about $10,000 from this year’s display, including donations from sponsors. All of the money raised will go to scholarships and to the following organizations: Clear Path for Veterans, the North Andover VFW Post 2104, The Movement Family in Lawrence and the House of Mercy in Lawrence.

Wescott, whose been a member of Exchange for 44 years, said his club buys flag kits from Colonial Flag Foundation along with a license to create the Field of Honor.

“It’s one of the most gratifyingly things to hear the stories of the relatives they want to honor,” he said about many of the flag buyers.

Closing ceremonies are Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon and will include live patriotic music performed by the Sax Pack, readings of poetry plus the reading of 30 to 40 dedication tags at a time. Keynote speaker is Eric Ryan from the VA in Bedford.

The Haverhill Exchange Club honors our nation’s flag each year though its So Proudly We Hail program. The program is a major part of the Exchange Club’s Americanism projects promoting pride in country, respect for the flag, and the appreciation of American freedoms and its service men and women.

No symbol inspires respect and love of country more than our American flag, said Ron Carpenito, who along with club members Scott Pare and Lisa MacDougall are in charge of the program.

“That is why we encourage all Americans to property fly the flag as an ongoing, visible expression of that respect,” he said.

Each year the club selects one homeowner and one business for having the best flag display in the city. The awards are usually presented in time for Flag Day, but with so many other programs taking place at this time, this year’s award winners will be recognized in a few weeks.

“Starting in April we ask our members to be on the lookout for great flag displays, then we drive around to find the displays that are most prominent and can include a nice pole and lighting, as flags should be lit at night else be taken down,” Carpenito said. “So far we’ve narrowed it down to three or four flag displays.”

The resident and business with the best displays will be honored during a luncheon, where they will receive plaques recognizing their patriotism.

“It make me feel incredible inside that we have citizens who believe in America,” Carpenito said. “The flag is a symbol that all are welcome and it summarizes everything we stand for as a country. I’m passionate about our flag and the people who fly the flag so proudly.”


(c)2024 The Eagle-Tribune (North Andover, Mass.)

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