SOMERVILLE, NJ - Democratic Mayor Dennis Sullivan, along with his Democratic colleagues on the Borough Council, paid tribute to the American flag Sunday - Flag Day - in front of Borough Hall where a large American flag flew at half-staff in memory of those who have died during the COFID-19 pandemic, as ordered by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on April 3.
The officials outnumbered spectators, although 'Ville TV was on hand to film the ceremony, which will be broadcast at a later date.
David Lang opened the ceremony singing the National Anthem.
At the other end of town, there was a Black Lives Matter demonstration on the front lawn of the Historic Somerset County Courthouse, where a crowd of 100 gathered to protest the deaths of blacks while being arrested or in police custody. There, too, the American flag flew at half-staff while many in the crowd took chalk and scrawled the names of those who have died on the pavement outside the courthouse and along East Main Street,
Sullivan offered his reflections on the significance of Flag Day; his colleagues also read patriotic poems and short essays about the flag and America:
Council President Roger Vroom III - “The Flag Goes By”
Councilwoman Jane Kobuta - “Our Flag”
Councilman Granville Brady - “Star Spangled Banner” verse #4
Councilman Thompson Mitchell - “Remember”
Councilman RanD Pitts - “Let America Be America Again”
Councilman Frederick Wied V - “I Love My Flag”
Lang concluded the program singing “You’re A Grand Old Flag.”
Here is the text of Sullivan's remarks at the Flag Day ceremony:
"We gather today to honor the tradition of Flag Day that started in Waubeka, Wisconsin 135 years ago. Bernard John Cigrand, a grade school teacher at Stony Hill School, organized the first formal observance of our American flag, and over the next 29 years Cigrand, by his own count, gave 2,188 speeches nationwide on patriotism and the flag.
"His efforts were finally rewarded in 1916 with a Proclamation by President Woodrow Wilson, and a subsequent Act of Congress in 1949. Although not a Federal holiday, Flag Day is celebrated nationwide with events such as this, and as a retired teacher myself, I am proud to evoke the memory of Bernard Cigrand here today in Somerville.
"The Stars and Stripes plays an important role in American culture. It is featured at parades, sporting events, and flies proudly outside public buildings throughout the land. It marks the graves of fallen veterans, drapes the caskets of deceased Presidents, and even stands silent watch on the moon to mark one of mankind’s greatest achievements. Its display recognizes the sacrifices of the past as well as the promises of the future and serves as a beacon of hope and freedom all over the world.
"Today our country faces an uncertain future. Social unrest, economic uncertainty, and concerns about public health dominate the airwaves and challenge our ability to survive as a nation. As we walk together into an unknown tomorrow, let us look to Old Glory for direction and inspiration. Bernard Cigrand surely walks beside us. Thank you."