Flag raised at Tuckahoe Park memorial

Mirror photo by William Kibler Flag Station owner Craig Hetrick (left) and volunteer Gary Clare raise the flag at Tuckahoe Park in front of representatives of area veterans organizations on Wednesday morning. The pole was installed prior to the raising.

It’s colorful cloth, but the U.S. flag has powerful symbolic value, especially for those who have served in the military.

About 30 such former servicemen showed up Wednes­day for the installation of a pole near the John F. Kennedy memorial bust in Tuckahoe Park and the hoisting of a new flag — an event for which they formed in a semi-circle and saluted.

“It’s nice there are this many veterans who care about this,” said George Good, a veteran and one of the leaders of an ongoing, yearlong effort of the restoration of approximately 30 mostly military monuments throughout Blair County.

The aluminum pole came from Flag Station USA, and company owner-partner Craig Hetrick installed it in an 8-inch wide, galvanized sleeve set within a cylindrical concrete base about 2 feet deep, poured last week on a foundation of shale.

With the help of volunteer Gary Clare, Hetrick plumbed the pole with a two-foot level, packed the space around the pole with sand to within several inches of the surface, then hammered thick oaken shims between the pole and the inside of the sleeve “north, south, east and west” to ensure against movement. They finished it off with sand to fill the spaces between the shims, then topped it with liquid sealant of the type used to waterproof the joints in sidewalks.

Hetrick then lowered the “flash collar,” or escutcheon, to the concrete, and it was time for flag-raising. Afterward, he dressed the ground around the concrete with topsoil.

Aluminum can’t be set directly in concrete because it pits, Hetrick explained.

Moreover, setting the pole in sand allows for it to be removed without damage if it ever becomes necessary, he added.

“You’re sweating, Craig,” said past association president Ken Hollen to Hetrick at one point.

“That’s an all-day, everyday thing,” Hetrick replied.

As it did with the Tuckahoe monument, Flag Station provided the pole and flag for the recently restored monument cluster at 40th Street near the Allegro restaurant.

In recent times, the monument restoration work has inspired more community interest and support, especially since the creation of a fund at the Central Pennsylvania Community Foundation, Good said.

The fund has made it convenient for business leaders to offer tax-deductible donations, he said.

The hope is for a fund big enough to maintain the monuments, once restored, so they won’t fall into disrepair, said Good, who is the community outreach director at Alto-Reste Park cemetery.

The veterans groups plan to rededicate the JFK monument at 10 a.m. Oct. 27.