Panther Valley JROTC CSM. Angela Piscitelli, helped by her platoon, hoisted the brand new American flag at the Coaldale Complex last week, just as patches of blue broke the clouds.

The 10-by-15-foot flag replaces one of two that were damaged during recent storms.

"A small group of veterans and patriots felt that both flags should be flying over the town on the tenth anniversary of 9/11. Thanks to their generosity, and contributions by the Coaldale Ambulance Auxiliary and the Rod and Gun Club, the flags will be flying in their glory on that date," said William Gaddes, an Air Force veteran of the Korean War and member of AMVETS Post One.

After the flag was up and flying, Millie Flyzik led those attending in the Pledge of Allegiance.

In addition, Tommy Sopko and Rolland Marshall, both past commanders of American Legion Post 170; Evan Evans, Millie Gaddes, and former mayor Ted and Sue Bortnick attended the service.

Officers of VFW post 6982 and Legion Post 170 are expected to attend.

JROTC cadets were SFC Heidi Warman, PFC Jerdil Castillo, Piscitelli, SGT. Amber Guzman, PFC Megan Thomas, and Sgt. Anissa Henry. CPL Roxanne Person; CPT. Georgiana Butler Major Kenneth Markovich leads the unit.

Gaddes spoke to the cadets, saying "On Sunday, Sept. 11, millions of words will be spoken and written regarding the tenth anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon by radical Muslim terrorists. I realize that you teenagers were young children, probably between the ages of 5 to 8. The event was beyond your comprehension at that time.

"The sixteen terrorists; about half of which had attended colleges and schools in our country; were attacking the very principles upon which our Great Nation was founded. These principles are stated in the Pledge of Allegiance which we have just recited. The threat is real and increasing. The terrorists would impose a radical Islamic state which would destroy all religious and personal freedoms.

"The very last sentence of President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, given more than 150 years ago, is still very relevant. 'That this Nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that the government of the people, by the people, and for the people; shall not perish from the earth'," Gaddes said.

"The freedoms that we enjoy were earned by untold sacrifice. Democracy is not free. It requires commitment, hard work, and vigilance to be sustained. We veterans and patriots here are gratified that you young people have made such a commitment. We are passing the Torch of Freedom. Please work and be vigilant to sustain it. The principles upon which this great Nation were founded are under a very real threat. It is subtle, complex and extremely dangerous.

"Thank you for the outstanding respect, preparation and precision shown in the handling and the raising of our American flag," he said.

In addition, a new flag was raised at the Veterans Memorial Garden next to borough hall on Third Street.

Donors for the American flag for the Complex; and for repair of the 35 foot flagpole at front of the Coaldale Veterans Memorial were: Gaddes and Bill Donovan, $50 each; Sopko, $20; Nick Paraschak, $20; Evans, $60; Marshall, $25; Danielle Zola/Patty Knepper, $25; and the Coaldale Ambulance Auxiliary, $75.

"The severely damaged 35 foot flagpole located at the Coaldale Veterans and Women's Memorial will be repaired by the Coaldale Fire Company, under the direction of Chief Richard Marek," Gaddes said. "A 6-by-10 foot American flag, donated by Sen. David Argall, will fly in glory on this flagpole."