by Kate, Calvin, and Kim Holtrop
Not long ago, the main entrance to Darley Village, a retirement village in Fruitport, was moved from Sternberg Road closer to the back of the property, near the Village Cafe. The village had a flag out front on the side of the cafe at that time. A veteran and resident of the village thought it would be good to erect a flagpole near the new entrance. Another resident, Vietnam veteran Mike Sipe, said that a collection taken up by the residents for the flagpole project received enough money within the first couple days to cover the expense. The village’s owner had the pole put up just outside the cafe entrance.
On Thursday, May 26th, Darley Village residents attended the dedication of the new flagpole. The ceremony was led by Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Commander, Jason Whitman, and Pastor Michael Scott of First Congregational Church of Fruitport. Mike Sipe coordinated the event.
Following a hearty greeting from the VFW, Commander Whitman introduced the ceremony by briefly explaining the symbolism of the American flag. “The flag of the United States reflects what we are and what we hope to be,” he said. “The white stripes symbolize purity of purpose in our freedom of thought, expression, and worship. These are the privileges guaranteed to all who live in our land. They are rights defended against all enemies who seek to crush the way of life that you and I so cherish. Also, in that flag, we see the red stripes of courage, our willingness to die, if necessary, for the preservation of American ideals. Then there’s the blue of tranquility, upon which the stars of our states are united to hold intact all that is truly ours—the desires for peace, prosperity, and happiness throughout our great nation.”
After the raising of the flag, the veterans present saluted the flag and recited the Pledge of Allegiance.
Then Pastor Scott told about the history of the flag’s symbolism, the importance of prayer in the birthing of our Constitution, and the development of the Pledge of Allegiance. He then prayed that God would protect our flag, our nation, and all those who serve to defend them.
Next, Commander Whitman presented to Mike Sipe a booklet of flag etiquette, explaining that although the law-enforceable part of the United States Flag Code no longer exists, we should still always appreciate people’s patriotism, even when they get the etiquette wrong, and should teach them whenever possible how to get it right. “I hope that you guys will take those to your heart and understand what the flag means to each and every American.” Commander Whitman gave flag pins to all the veterans present, and thanked each one for his service.
“I appreciate all of your community support,” said Commander Whitman, “and I appreciate you having me here. And I appreciate Pastor Scott and his involvement.” He then added to Mike Sipe, “I appreciate your coordinating this effort.”
Mr. Sipe said that the future plans of Darley Village include planting a garden around the flagpole, with a stone and plaque in the garden. He also said that the resident veterans want to become an active group that can work with the VFW.