Built 17 years ago, the Mansfield Area Y had never had a flag until Wednesday. "It was a goal of mine to put a flag on this campus," Y president and CEO Cristen Gilbert said. Gilbert came to the Y five years ago. Dozens of people turned out Tuesday on a muggy morning for the flag-raising ceremony, which was handled by the American Legion Color Guard from Post 535 in Bellville.
Officials in attendance included Richland County commissioners Tony Vero and Darrell Banks, Mansfield Mayor Tim Theaker and Ontario Mayor Randy Hutchinson. Gilbert said the biggest population served by the Y is seniors, many of whom are veterans.
"I feel this is respectful to them," she said. Kim Magers, a veteran and member at the Y, made a gift, a portion of which was used for the flagpole. Another veteran donated the flag. Gilbert also recognized Amcrete Concrete Construction for its work. Preschoolers from the Y led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance just after the flag-raising, which took place, appropriately enough, on Flag Day. Just before wrapping up, local teenage musician Jai Merina performed the National Anthem, bringing Gilbert to tears.
"This is so important to me," Gilbert said. "I have family members who have served, but this is for all of you." Gilbert said her original goal was to have the ceremony on Veterans Day, but the weather was not conducive to put in the flagpole. She called Flag Day an underrated holiday and gave a bit of its history.
In the United States, Flag Day is celebrated on June 14. It commemorates the adoption of the U.S. flag, which happened on June 14, 1777, by resolution of the Second Continental Congress. The U.S. Army also celebrates its birthday on this date. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation that officially established June 14 as Flag Day.
Gilbert thanked the attendees and said the flag would fly "morning, noon and night."