With the United States celebrating its independence on July 4, flags and symbols of national pride will begin to crop up around the country. But for some, putting their wares out for display can be a challenge.3
Ellen Peoples is a 97-year-old Portland, Maine, resident who has raised a flag on the flagpole outside her home for years. Her late husband was a WWII veteran who passed away in 1973, and she has lived alone for years.
Ellen wasn’t sure how she’d be able to raise her flag this year.
Peoples has been living in her Maine home for 10 years, and her son said she has displayed an American flag for as long as he can remember. When she moved into her cozy abode, he bought her a flagpole.
“She always flies the flag,” Alan Peoples said to the Press Herald. “It’s that generation.”
But after 20 years of service, the rope that kept the flag flying finally gave way. Only a few weeks before the July 4 holiday, neither was sure how they’d run a new one up the pole.
“I had no idea how to get up there,” Alan said.
Ellen had the idea of calling the fire department for help.
Ellen’s caretaker phoned the fire department on her behalf and explained the situation. Early in the morning on Tuesday, June 26, a truck from Ladder 34 pulled up in front of her house.
She was thrilled, and after thanking the firefighters for their help, she opened the bay to her garage and watched them put up the flag. At the end of the cherry picker was veteran firefighter Ronald Giroux Jr.
“Ladder Co. 34 (Platoon 4) responded, made the necessary repairs and proudly raised her new flag in advance of Independence Day,” the Portland Maine Fire Department said in their Facebook post.
“While assisting her, the crew learned that her late husband was a Pearl Harbor Veteran. It was a pleasure to assist you with this necessary repair and to learn about your husband.”
The crew said the repair didn’t take long, and while they’ve never received a call of this kind before, they were happy to help.
Giroux stressed that firefighters are part of the neighborhood, and want to help.
“We do help people with a lot of different things, whether it’s neighborhood kids coming to the fire station to have their bikes fixed or put air in their tires. But it was the first time we fixed a flagpole,” Giroux said to the Press Herald.
“We are part of the neighborhood and part of the community. A lot of the stuff really goes unnoticed.”
The fire department’s post quickly surpassed 4,000 likes and 1,300 shares on Facebook. Peoples was surprised by the overwhelming response to her story.
“I can’t believe it,” she said. “That’s a lot of people.”