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Saturday, February 2, 2008

Our Flag, Pittsburgh and Inspiration

Guest blogger today is John L. Kovach Jr. who was instrumental in founding a plaza in Pittsburgh to allow America's citizens a place to condut ceremonies for the dignified retirement of the United States Flag. E-mail him at and, of course, leave comments here.

"Old Glory", even the name should make us all aware of the reverence we should hold for our flag. A symbol that millions of American men and women have defended and died for. A flag recognized all over the world, even by America's enemies. A flag that protects each of us as citizens of a nation that have the greatest freedoms in the world. But yet a flag that has been disrespected and desecrated by those very people who look for her protection in time of strife and let her blanket them and protect them.

For many years I have observed flag retirement ceremonies being conducted in areas where basically a hole or container was used to do the incinerating. I am sure many private places have retirement areas also but felt that there should be an area for the public to be able to reserve and conduct ceremonies for the dignified retirement of United States Flags. In November-December of 2005 I spoke with and met Allegheny County, Pa. Council Member Vince Gastgeb and proposed and idea to him to construct an area in one of our local parks for private citizens, scouting, veteran and civic organizations to be able to use to conduct these ceremonies, to show our flag that we as Americans do respect her, do care about showing her total respect. Council Member Gastgeb was 100% receptive to this idea and took my basic design to the necessary individuals within the county government where it received unanimous approval for its construction.

We then met with Allegheny County, Pa. Director of Parks Andy Baechle and went to look at some potential areas within Allegheny County's "South County Park". It was almost as if fate intervened as the first first site we stopped at hit us all as the ideal spot for this plaza. it is nestled within a serene setting, birds chirping, wooded landscape, all facilities close at hand. Additionally it was within 100 yards of the park Boy Scout building.

An essay contest was held so that all high school students in Allegheny might have a chance to select a name for the site and write an essay as to what our flag mean to them and why they chose this name. The winning essay was written by North Catholic High School Student Natalie Sippel and the site is now known as:

"By The Dawn's Early Light"
United States Flag Retirement Plaza

Construction began shortly after wards and the dedication ceremony was held on June 14, 2006. However the site was not completed in its entirety but we felt it was completed enough to dedicate.

This site was always designed to be a work in progress as we would like to make some improvements to enhance its beauty and give even more reference to it so that people may come to just sit and reflect. To view some of the improvement we would like to make you can go to This web page was graciously set up by Donn Dade of The Americans Veterans Network. I have tried to apply for grants for these projects but was turned down by one and told by others that it did not fit into their eligibility criteria.

It is sad that our flag takes a second place to all else and that she does not fit into any American funding project criteria. It is hoped that people of an individual will see these and wish to donate to insure their completion. The Mosaic wall mural is our top priority and currently students from Allegheny County Community College are doing designs and will then submit them for selection.

I have always followed a philosophy in that "The type of American we show our children how to be; will be the type of American they in fact grow up to become"

We must show children how to respect our flag and hope in turn they will show their children so that in time she will not be forgotten, degraded or desecrated by any American.

Each June 14th has been reserved by Allegheny County, Pennsylvania for the annual county United States Flag Retirement Ceremony. The ceremony will be conducted on June 14, 2008 at the site.

If any individual would like to contribute to helping complete these improvements [plans are underway to allow for provisions to do so. Please contact me ( and I can put you in touch with the appropriate county official.

Please help us respect our flag and maybe this will be the first of other sites designed for people to use, a site that is truly for;
"We the people..."

Blogger Carolyn Howard-Johnson wrote the foreword for Eric Dinyer's book of patriotic quotations, Support Our Troops, published by Andrews McMeel. Part of the proceeds for the book benefit Fisher House. Her chapbook of poetry won the Military Writers Society of America's award of excellence.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I want to encourage anyone who is in the Pittsburgh area to please come to the Flag Day Ceremony on June 14 at 6pm at the Dawn's Early Light Flag Retirement Plaza in South Park.

It will be my great honor to speak there.

Also, anyone who would like to donate any amount to support and improve the Flag Retirement Plaza you can contact John Kovach.

Joyce Faulkner