Flag Day saluted at local ceremony

Scouts, park service, military, patriotically attired mayors, public join to honor Old Glory

By Tom Vogt, Columbian science, military & history reporter

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"Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

Those words make a good addition to a patriotic observance like Flag Day, which was celebrated in red-white-and-blue fashion Thursday in Vancouver.

It turns out that the phrase, from the preamble to the Declaration of Independence, also can contribute to a pretty good necktie design.

In an event that's become part of our annual June 14 observance, Vancouver's Tim Leavitt won the Clark County mayors' patriotic tie competition.

Leavitt outpointed five other local mayors with an entry that was designed by eight children. They're members of the Junior Joy Team, which had swept into Vancouver City Hall in February on a joy-spreading mission.

"We all did our own designs on paper," Aliana Montez, 10, said after the event at the Fort Vancouver National Site. "Then a piece of everyone's design went on the tie, with gels and pens."

Those elements were alternated with words from the preamble.

The event was judged by a panel of fifth-graders from Vancouver's Marshall Elementary and Evergreen's Sunset Elementary. They had to evaluate quite a range of patriotic neckwear, as well as a candy bribe or two, before settling on Leavitt's entry.

"I liked his tie because of the preamble," said Savannah Keller, a Sunset fifth-grader.

Keller also was something of a winner. She headed home with a mini-version of an Uncle Sam that had been part of Ridgefield Mayor Ron Onslow's star-spangled ensemble. He left it on the judges' table.

"I'll wear it on the Fourth of July," Keller said.

People at the observance on the Vancouver Barracks Parade Ground had a chance to participate in the National Pause for the Pledge. The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Lt. Col. J.D. Litton, deputy commander of 2nd Brigade, 95th Division, U.S. Army Reserves at the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Vancouver.

As people recited the pledge, their eyes were on a huge version of Old Glory held by Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Girls Scouts and members of Fort Vancouver's National Park Service staff.

The local observance is officially known as Flag Day at Fort Vancouver Presented by Veolia Water.

In 1949, President Harry S. Truman declared Flag Day a national holiday. It celebrates the resolution on June 14, 1777, when Congress declared that: "the Flag of the thirteen United States shall be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the Union be thirteen stars, white on a blue field, representing a new constellation."

Flag Day is one of several free Celebrate Freedom programs organized by the nonprofit Fort Vancouver National Trust.

Tom Vogt: 360-735-4558; http://www.twitter.com/col_history;tom.vogt@columbian.com.