By Isiah REYES
On Saturday, June 14 the community is invited to a ceremony at the Montrose Vietnam Memorial in honor of Flag Week. Flag Week is an expansion of Flag Day, which commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States in 1777. Montrose resident Vito Cannella is one of the few people still around who was originally involved with creating Flag Week.
Back in 1965, the team of Cannella, 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.
Cannella said he is committed to publicizing Flag Week because it is the symbol of the country that has done so much for him.
“My attachment to the flag is because this country helped me be what I am today,” said Cannella, who immigrated 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. He said because he is one of the few people alive who helped make Flag Week a reality, it is his responsibility to continue to push for its publicity.
Every year since 1967, Cannella has sent a letter to each of the presidents, from Lyndon B. Johnson to Barack Obama. He said that during Flag Week’s inaugural year, it was a big deal and everyone proudly displayed the flag. But as the decades have passed, people seemed to forget that it even exists.
The joint resolution states that the President is authorized and requested to issue annually a proclamation designating the week in which June 14 occurs as National Flag Week. Cannella said that presidents of the United States sign the proclamation privately and quietly and give no publicity to the matter.
“The President should verbally ask the people of the United States to fly the flag,” he said, “but it doesn’t happen.”
He has been presented with a copy of the proclamation for several years and has forwarded his copies to different organizations, such as the Rotary Club and his church.
Cannella wants to make sure that the nation is made aware of Flag Week and that it originated in Montrose.
“Someday I’m going to write a book on the history of Flag Week, from how it started, all the effort that it took, and how it was accomplished,” he said. “Because now it is the law of the land.”
Flag Week calls for all citizens to display their flag of the United States of America. The joint resolution was originally passed by the House of Representatives on May 2, 1966.
“The flag is the symbol of our country,” Cannella said. “Many men and women have died defending the flag that represents liberty and justice for all.”
In preparation for Saturday’s ceremony, American flags have been installed at prominent places at the east entrance to Montrose and the four corners at Ocean View Boulevard and Honolulu Avenues.
The ceremony will be held at the Vietnam Memorial, located at the northwest corner of Ocean View Boulevard and Honolulu Avenue, at 9 a.m.