New England Newspapers
DALTON -- At Camp Evans in Vietnam, a rocket exploded at the base of the flagpole, jettisoning the American flag into the foxhole where Dan Taylor, now 65, was positioned.
"We put it [the flag] on a rifle and stuck it up. We refused to give ground," said the New York resident temporarily living in Dalton for rehabilitation.
Bittersweet memories of that day were on Taylor’s mind Thursday as he joined other residents and visitors at Craneville Place to celebrate Flag Day, the little-observed national holiday marking the day in 1777 that Congress adopted the American flag. During a flag-raising ceremony on the lawn of the skilled nursing and rehab facility, several dozen people gathered to sing patriotic tunes and wave the emblem of the freedoms many of them fought for as servicemen and women.
"I was in the Navy during World War II, and my husband was in the Air Force, so it means a lot to both of us. It’s our life," said Caroline Zahn, 88. "When you look at that thing flying, and think of all it represents -- it’s a fabulous symbol."
Men from the Dalton American Legion as well as the Veterans Administration in Northampton joined the commemoration.
"The flag is the flag," said Tyrone Belanger of the American Legion. "It’s our country. I do believe in my country and freedom -- plain and simple."
The stars and stripes have been a major part of Korean War veteran Stephen
As a serviceman, he was exposed to radiation during atomic bomb testing in Nevada, and for the past 10 years has had to use a wheelchair. But he remains as patriotic as ever.
"A lot of people don’t know what our vets went through," said Bondini, one of about 20 veterans living at Craneville Place.
"We have so many vets that are here with us, so we try to pay tribute that this is a special day," said administrator Denise Vigna.