Navy veteran Flegal to chair McKeesport Flag Day for 45th year
Every morning, Clifford W. Flegal Sr. flies seven American flags on the porch of his McKeesport home.
“There's one for me and one for each of my brothers,” Flegal said. “There were seven boys in my family, and when the war came along, six of us were in the service. My oldest brother tried to enlist, and his employer wouldn't release him.”
Flegal, who will celebrate his 94th birthday in August, is a World War II veteran who enlisted in the Navy the day after Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor. He has been a part of many veterans programs in McKeesport since that time, most notably chairing the city's Flag Day ceremony for 45 years. This year's event is planned for Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Palisades, Fifth Avenue at Joe Bendel Way in McKeesport.
The Red, White and Blue caught Flegal's eye long before he served.
“My dad, a Spanish-American war veteran, used to take me to different affairs when I was a little boy,” Flegal recalled. “I marched with him in parades, and I've been interested in the flag and what it stands for ever since.”
The flag is important to the nation's history and values, Flegal said. With 13 alternating red and white stripes representing the original British colonies that declared independence to form the United States and a blue rectangle bearing 50 stars for the nation's current states, Old Glory is a symbol of America.
“There's a lot of history behind that flag, and people take it for granted,” Flegal said. “The Flag Day ceremony shows each of the flags flown throughout this nation's history, and each one tells a story.”
The annual Flag Day ceremony embraces the memory of all Americans who answered the call to arms in all branches of the Armed Forces. Flegal said Saturday's service is dedicated to local veterans who died this year, including John J. Lawson Jr., Navy, Korean War; Steve Gasparovic, Army, Korean War; and John Chernicky, Army Air Corps, World War II.
Participating organizations include the U.S. Naval Reserve Readiness Center, Port Vue American Legion Post 477, Liberty Borough Veterans Association, Carl A. Everett VFW Post 514, American Legion Post 361 and the McKeesport Area High School band.
Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or firstname.lastname@example.org.