Continuing its town's tradition of being one of the most patriotic communities in the region, and following the club's motto of "We serve," the Summit Hill Lions Club has announced the continuation of an American flag program that in the past honored members of the community for their service to our country.
Beginning this week, the club will honor and memorialize veterans who are Summit Hill residents, as well as former residents, regardless of military service.
The program was started last year after being discontinued years ago. In the 1980s, the late Wesley Hiles, then a borough councilman and a staunch U.S. Navy veteran, initiated a flag program whereby American flags flew at five or six borough sites in memory or honor of veterans.
Years later, after Hiles' passing, the Summit Hill Historical Society restarted the program, which was maintained for a year or two before being discontinued.
"We (the Lions club members) decided this would be a great project to honor and memorialize town residents," noted Judy Midas, president of the club.
"In the past, families donated the flags of veterans to Wesley for use in the program, and he had a wonderful system in place. He tagged each flag and had a unique filing system in his garage, where he stored the flags in bins to keep track of them. But we decided to modify that approach. The Lions purchased their own flag and will use it for everyone."
Joseph O'Gurek Jr. will head up the program. Residents can call him at 570-645-5171 to request the flag fly in memory or honor of town residents.
"We plan to do this from Memorial Day to Veterans Day, and it does not have to be in honor or memory of a veteran. The club wants to recognize any resident because we realize there are many others who deserve it," he said.
Midas said when the historical society launched the program, its members flew "casket flags" in member of "service people." But, she said, "It became a hassle with issues like torn flags and things like that."
The Lions said they are committed to purchasing new flags if the ones being used become worn and torn.
Meanwhile, a special flag that is massive in size will be utilized on holidays.
"Everyone remembers the program as a really nice thing, when people from town were honored and recognized," said Kathy Crampsie, club secretary. "We just thought it would be great to resurrect it as a service project for the community."
O'Gurek said requests for the flag tributes will be handled on a first-come, first-served basis.
"We would like to honor everyone's request. It's a great way to remember our townspeople," he said, adding that the club will announce the honorary or memorial tribute weekly in the Times News.
Midas said the first tribute will begin this week, with the honor going to Jack Bryant, a World War II veteran who had the honor Monday of serving as grand marshal of the Summit Hill Memorial Day Parade.
"The flag will fly for one week in honor of Jack," she said, adding, "We thought it was appropriate to start off with honoring our grand marshal."
The club has solicitedassistance from the borough, whose workers will handle the hanging and taking down of the flags.