Historic flag moves from Greensburg fire department attic to new home
A massive American flag that was hidden away for decades in a Greensburg fire station has found a new home with the Westmoreland County Historical Society.
The history of the flag has been lost to time. All anyone knows about it are the stories passed down by firefighters who have since died.
“All the older members who could tell us how it was used are gone,” said William Rudolph, director of the Greensburg Volunteer Fire Department Museum.
The fire department donated the flag to the fire museum in November. The small museum doesn’t have room to display it, so they passed it along to the historical society.
As far as fire museum board President Dave Klingler knows, the flag was carried through Greensburg in parades during World War II — possibly by the Boy Scouts, or maybe the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Klingler doesn’t think the flag ever flew from any Greensburg buildings. It’s too big, more than 20 feet long.
The flag has 48 stars, which means it was made sometime after Arizona became the 48th state in 1912 but before Alaska gained statehood in 1959.
A tag identifies it as a Sterling-brand wool flag, but it doesn’t say what year it was made.
The flag was kept in storage for many years, first in a basement, then in a garbage bag in the attic of Greensburg Volunteer Fire Department’s Hose Company No. 2 station on Pennsylvania Avenue.
It’s in pretty good shape for its age. It’s a little worn, with a few holes, and the white stripes have slightly yellowed with age, but the blue field and red stripes are still vibrant.
Klingler hopes the historical society can uncover more of the flag’s story.
“It has a history, if they can find the history of it,” he said.
Historical society Fund Development Director Dave Delisi said volunteers at the historical society will give it their best shot.
“We’ll try to figure out whatever we can,” he said.
The society has a team of about 50 volunteers who research and care for its extensive collection of artifacts, which contains objects from the county’s past like cookware, weapons, clothing and flags.
“We turn nothing down,” Delisi said.
The society has never had a way to display its artifact collection, but that will be changing soon, Delisi said.
The long-anticipated Westmoreland History Education Center at Historic Hanna’s Town in Hempfield is under construction and is expected to open this spring. The center will include an exhibit space that will allow the society to show off some of its collection.
In the meantime, the society will keep the flag in storage, sealed to prevent further wear.
Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jacob at 724-836-6646, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @Soolseem.
Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jacob at 724-836-6646, email@example.com or via Twitter .