‘It’s in your heart’

Flag Day celebrated

Elliot Zimmerman, 3, of Pittsburgh waves his flag Friday as he runs across Heritage Plaza.

Not long ago, Stan Snyder heard from a friend that an American flag that had been hanging inside a store window downtown had fallen and was lying on the shelf below.

When he was a kid, Snyder would have paid no attention, because he ignored the flag then, he said Friday, after the city’s traditional Flag Day celebration at Heritage Plaza.

But it’s different for him now — and for the last 50 years — because he served in the military, in the Navy, in Saigon, during the Vietnam War, and that transformed his outlook, he said.

He struggled to explain why the falling of a flag in a store window released a flood of feeling in him, resorting at first to cliches.

But, urged to think about it, he said, holding his hand against his chest: “It’s in your heart. It’s like a star in your heart.”

Members of the Altoona City Fire and Police Departments take part in the Preparation of Colors during the Gospel Hill Flag Ceremony Friday at Heritage Plaza.

The city’s celebration was established in connection with the big American flag that has flown on Gospel Hill above the plaza since 1990, and in connection with the raising of the money to keep that large flag aloft.

The money to do it is in a fund of the Central Pennsylvania Community Foundation, whose executive director Jodi Cessna is always master of ceremonies for the Flag Day event — which is staffed by city employees, who grill and serve hot dogs, along with soda and snacks, to attendees.

The main speaker Friday was Altoona Area High School history teacher Jim Lowe, who described a succession of historical scenes in which the flag was prominent, if only in the imagination of an artist — from 1776, during Washington’s crossing of the Delaware, when the flag hadn’t even been designed; to 1969, when one was set upon the surface of the moon.

As a precursor of summer, “It’s a cool little ceremony,” Mayor Matt Pacifico said.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.

Photos for the Mirror by Isaac Ritchey Altoona City Fire Department firefighter Keith Cron takes part in the Preparation of Colors during the Gospel Hill Flag Ceremony on Friday at Heritage Plaza.