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Letter: The Story Behind the Red, Yellow and Green Flag on the Burlington Town Commons

People have been asking about the flag. Bob Hogan has the answer.

The following is a letter to the editor from Bob Hogan, Director of the Burlington Office of Veterans Services:

The Burlington Office of Veterans Services wishes to clarify the red, yellow and green flag that is flying beneath the U.S. Flag on the town common that so many residents have been asking about.

On this past Veterans Day, we raised a Vietnam Service Flag to fly below the U.S. Flag on the flag pole on our Town Common.  This flag is a replica of the Vietnam Service Ribbon distributed to U.S. military personnel who served in Vietnam. 

Vietnam veterans in attendance were also given small Vietnam Service collar pins, which are similar to the Vietnam Service Ribbons and the Vietnam Service Flag that is presently flying on our town common. We raised this Flag in honor of Vietnam veterans because it marks the 50th Anniversary of the beginning of the Vietnam War, and we thank all who served, for all their service, their sacrifice and for that part of their life that they gave up. 

This office also wants to acknowledge the many inquiries about the 35 times this past year that the U.S. Flag has been lowered to Half-Staff. There are a myriad of reasons why the President and the Governor ordered the U.S. Flag to Half-Staff, and 16 of those reasons were for members of one of the branches of our Armed Forces, who were from Massachusetts, who died while serving their country.

They are: SFC Donald Reis of Fall River, Lance Corporal Michael J. Ronner of Sudbury, Marine Corps Private First Class Brendon P. Carey of Rehoboth, Army National Guard Sergeant First Class Stephen Policarpo of New Bedford, Marine Cpl. Kevin Dabrowski of Webster, Army Master Sergeant Gregory R. Trent of Norton, Army SPC David A. Mulno of Tewksbury, Coast Guard Seaman Apprentice Chad Kierstead of Plymouth, Army Major Steven Brothers of Arlington, Army Sgt. Tyrone A. Hines, of Boston, Pfc. Antonio Syrakos of Lynn, Sergeant First Class Michael J. Squillaci of Uxbridge, Army PFC Michael R. Demarsico II of North Adams, Airman Sean P. Sears of Malden, Army Sergeant Michael Bono of Westport, Marine Corporal Christopher Arzola of Westfield.

We must never forget their sacrifice, nor the sacrifice their families have made.

The U.S. Flags were also lowered for two Massachusetts police officers killed in the line of duty, on two occasions to honor fire fighters (National Fallen Firefighters Memorial) and police officers, (Peace Officers Memorial Day), for the National Day of Remembrance for 9-11, National Pearl Harbor Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, President's Day, for three mass shootings at: Aurora Colorado, Oak Creek Wisconsin and Newtown Connecticut, as well as for Ambassador J. Chris Stevens and Winchester native Glen Doherty who died in Benghazi Libya. Flags were also lowered for: US Senator Daniel Inouye, US Senator Arlen Specter, Congressman Joseph Early, State Representative Joyce Spiliotis and for the First Man to walk on the Moon, Neil Armstrong.

Bob Hogan

Director Burlington Veterans Services

Patch Reader February 01, 2013 at 01:17 PM
What about the service men & women from all the other wars? Why should we single about the Vietnam erea service people? Just because it's the 50th anniversary of the start? That's not right. The town should not be flying a flag in honor of the Vietnam veterans - it should fly a flag for all or none at all.
Wayne Wisner February 01, 2013 at 05:25 PM
How can i be notified when to fly my US flag at half-staff ?
Steve February 01, 2013 at 09:02 PM
I think that lowering the flag is the right thing to do when honoring those who have died in service or a result of their service to our country; and when marking the passing of those whose life was devoted to public service. I agree that most of the times this has been done in the past; it was the right thing to do. I also feel that all veterans deserve recognition for their service and sacrifice - regardless of where and when they served. I have to wonder how Viet Nam vets felt about the lack of recognition that day for those that served both before and after they did. Perhaps a new flag should be created (if it doesn't already exist); one that could represent veterans from all eras. Eventually, it would be as recognizeable as the familiar black POW/MIA flag. Lastly, I do not feel that flag should have been lowered due to the tragedies of the three mass shootings at Aurora Colorado, Oak Creek Wisconsin and Newtown Connecticut. While I believe that these were incredibly horrific acts, the victims were not in service to their country. To honor them in the same way as those that did only diminishes the relevance of the practice. If you have to ask why the flag is lowered on a particular day - maybe it shouldn't be lowered.
APS221 February 02, 2013 at 08:36 AM
You can sign up for an e-mail notification here: http://www.mass.gov/anf/property-mgmt-and-construction/oversight-agencies/bsb/flag-status.html

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