Fort Vancouver hosts annual celebration of Old Glory

By Tom Vogt, Columbian science, military & history reporter

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photoPrairie High School Air Force Junior ROTC cadet Sophia MacPherson, 15, helps hold up a large American flag Tuesday during the annual Flag Day celebration at the Vancouver Barracks Parade Ground.

(/The Columbian)

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June 14 is the birthday of the American flag as well as the U.S. Army. It’s also the birthday of Battle Ground Mayor Mike Ciraulo, his Vancouver counterpart Tim Leavitt noted at Tuesday’s Flag Day festivities.

It was a pretty good Flag Day for Mae Carse.

More like Flags Day, really, because the 7-year-old Vancouver girl was waving three of them Tuesday afternoon during Flag Day at Fort Vancouver.

She has plans for them, too. The Hough Elementary first-grader will take them to school for next year’s Veterans Day assembly.

After all, her grandfather is a veteran.

“Lifeguard,” the girl explained.

Her mother, Heather Carse, gently reminded Mae: “Coast Guard.”

Other people also were there on behalf of loved ones who have served, including Debbie Bruns.

“I came to pay my respects to the flag,” the Vancouver woman said.

About 200 yards to the west, the name of her son was the first entry inscribed on the “Global War on Terrorism” section of the county war memorial. Marine Lance Cpl. Cedric Bruns died in 2003, the first local serviceman to die in the Iraq War.

“That was eight years ago,” she said.

The annual event on the Vancouver Barracks Parade Grounds was a star-spangled celebration that included music and Prairie High School’s rifle drill team.

There also was a history lesson from Marshall Elementary fifth-graders, who doubled as judges for the second annual mayors’ patriotic necktie contest.

The trophy was captured by Scott Higgins, mayor pro tem of Camas. Higgins scored with a necktie that appealed to the patriotism — and the inner Tasmanian devil — of all fifth-graders. Higgins said he borrowed the tie, which featured the cartoon character “Taz,” from Camas School Superintendent Mike Nerland.

A couple of other candidates put their chips on kid-level artistry. Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt said his tie was created by 4- and 5-year-olds at the Firstenburg Community Center play school. Last year, Leavitt rode the design of “Project Runway” winner SethAaron Henderson to a tie (so to speak) with Washougal Mayor Sean Guard.

Battle Ground Mayor Mike Ciraulo said he enlisted some help from his “lunch buddy” at Maple Grove Elementary. Children in a third-grade class designed and painted Ciraulo’s tie.

Marilee McCall, Woodland’s mayor pro team, might have tapped the most original material with a tie crafted from candy. The tie featured a stripe of red, a stripe of white and a stripe of blue. Each stripe was done with a pair of colored Gummi Bears.

They were sold by the pound, McCall said, so after using six Gummi Bears on her tie, she had about 15 ounces of candy left. She gave the bag to the judges.

Tuesday’s celebration was the 11th annual Flag Day observance organized by the Celebrate Freedom program of the Fort Vancouver National Trust. It was sponsored by Veolia Water.