By Mary O’KEEFE
For over 200 years the American flag has flown across the United States, first as a statement of defiance and of a new beginning, then as a reminder of our nation’s hard fought freedom. But for one Montrose man the flag represents home and liberty.
“The flag is the symbol of our country,” Vito Cannella said in an earlier interview with CVW. “Many men and women have died defending the flag that represents liberty and justice for all.”
June 14 is officially Flag Day, which was originally established by the Proclamation of President Woodrow Wilson on May 30, 1916. But for a group of Montrose men and a Congressman, one day is not enough celebrate and honor the flag.
In 1965, Cannella, with businessman Bill Bailey, Ledger Newspaper Editor Don Carpenter, Congressman H. Allen Smith and Crescenta-Cañada Rotary Club members, gathered thousands of signatures to petition Congress to implement Flag Week.
“My attachment to the flag is because this country helped me be what I am today,” said Cannella, who emigrated from Italy in 1953. In 1958, he opened Vito’s Barber Shop in the heart of Montrose. He also served as the postmaster of Montrose in the 1960s.
Of the original Montrose members from that first Flag Week petition drive only Canella is left. He feels that the responsibility to promote Flag Week falls now to him, so every year since 1967 Cannella has sent a letter to the U.S. Presidents reminding them of Flag Week and requesting a proclamation.
Cannella said the Presidents have signed the proclamation privately and quietly but he wants the President to proclaim Flag Week more publically.
American flags are being flown in honor of Flag Week in Montrose along Honolulu Avenue and throughout Crescenta Valley. The American Legion Post 288 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1614 will honor Cannella at a breakfast Saturday, June 11 at 8:30 a.m. at the American Legion Hall in La Crescenta, 4011 La Crescenta Ave.