That exclamation by local veteran Jim Scott kicked off local events celebrating Kansas' 150th birthday and a small ceremony associated with the raising of the Patriot Flag -- a 30-by-58 foot, 60-pound United States flag -- on Saturday at Skubitz Plaza near the Fort Scott National Historic Site. The flag flew in front of the historic site this weekend and was part of a similar ceremony in Nevada, Mo., Monday afternoon.
The ceremony was tied into a variety of activities that took place at the historic site this weekend marking not only the 150th anniversary of Kansas statehood, but the start of the Civil War.
(Jason E. Silvers/Tribune)
Local resident Jim Shoemaker, who set up the sound equipment for the flag ceremony, said he thought the ceremony was "absolutely fabulous.
"The weather couldn't have been better," he said. "I was utterly amazed at the number of people who turned out ... I think it's a privilege for Fort Scott to have this flag and ceremony to come in."
(Jason E. Silvers/Tribune)
Fort Scott Fire Department Chief Paul Ballou, one of the event's organizers, said he was impressed with the number of people who attended and pleased the weather cooperated.
"I think it went really well," he said. "A lot of people turned out ... Not to mention the good weather."
Local veteran Ed French, a member of the VFW color guard, was among several area veterans, fire personnel and others who helped hold the flag off the ground and guide it as it was being raised into the air.
"I was honored to take part in the ceremony," French said. "It was great to see people show their patriotism when the flag went up ... Everyone who helped raise and take down the flag was deeply moved to be able to participate in such a special ceremony."
French also said he was pleased with the turnout.
Scott's brief remarks during the flag ceremony included the flag's purpose, why it was in Fort Scott and where it's going, why Fort Scott was proud to receive the flag, and other tidbits about the flag and Kansas history. The ceremony also included the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and the singing of the "Star Spangled Banner" by Nicki Madison-Traul.
The organization of the ceremony included involvement by Shoemaker, the American Legion Post No. 25, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 1165, the Fort Scott and Nevada fire departments, the Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Fort Scott National Historic Site.
The Patriot Flag is a tribute to the armed forces and first responders who assisted during the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on America, as well as the victims of those attacks and their families. It is on a nationwide "50 States in 50 Weeks" tour of remembrance in which it will fly in each of the 50 states before being raised in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania on the upcoming 10th anniversary of the attacks. It has been flown in 25 states and 60 cities as of Jan. 29.
A group of firefighters and veterans in the San Diego, Calif., area and World Memorial, a nonprofit federally-recognized charity, are coordinating the flag project in conjunction with the American Legion J.B. Clark Post 149 in California.
The flag was hoisted up with the assistance of ladder trucks from the Fort Scott and Nevada fire departments. Its next stop on the tour is St. Louis, Mo. It will be retired in an official ceremony in Escondido, Calif., this September and placed in an appropriate venue to be announced later.