Above / Surrounded by local Veterans above, Naperville resident Marty Walker displays a newly-and-properly folded American flag that has been retired after 10 years of prominence at the Naperville Municipal Center. (See below.)
Anyone who has visited the Cmdr. Dan Shanower Sept. 11 Memorial along the Naperville Riverwalk likely has noticed the enormous American flag mounted on the back exterior of the Naperville Municipal Center.
When the 20′ x 30′ American flag began to show its age after 10 years of facing the elements as a symbol for freedom, plans were made to replace the flag with a new one.
Marty Walker became the recipient of this Grand Old Flag from the City, and during a planned flag-folding ceremony held on June 26 in the VFW Hall, Walker relayed the story about how former Mayor A. George Pradel had begun displaying this flag as a show of Americanism and pride in America.
As Walker recalls, Mayor Pradel had the flag displayed high on the Naperville Municipal Center on May 2, 2011, the very date when the Navy Seals Team 6 took out Osama bin Laden, about ten years after Sept. 11, 2001. Many online reports note that United States forces finally caught up with “the mastermind of the deadliest attacks on American soil” during a raid on bin Laden’s Pakistani compound where he lived in hiding with his family.
And every year thereafter, the City of Naperville displayed the impressive flag from Memorial Day through Veterans Day, Walker said.
When replaced, the old flag was be taken to Naperville VFW Hall for a formal folding ceremony by members of the Judd Kendall VFW Post 3873 and American Legion Post 43 as well as other volunteers.
“Since the flag is very large, its folding will be worthwhile to witness,” noted Dennis Lukavsky, publicist for the local Veterans’ organizations, when he invited the public “to witness this historic event.”
Jim Oftedal, Commander of the Naperville Honor Guard, is familiar with folding flags at gravesite burials for Veterans, so his group was asked to assist. A flag for a veteran is folded with 13 specific folds, each with a meaning, and it ends up as a tri-corner flag, Oftedal explained.
Though the size of the flag didn’t qualify as an “Honor Guard Flag,” the flag was perfectly and properly folded into a tri-corner flag within ten minutes.
Now that the American Flag has been properly folded, the symbol of freedom will be placed in a new wooden case to be crafted by Walker and Jim Hoch. The wooden case will be built to store, preserve and remember its historic significance in Naperville.
According to Walker, the flag will be placed on display at the VFW, and Veterans who helped fold the flag on June 26, 2022, expect the presentation will be another opportunity to remember its significance.
The Judd Kendall VFW Post 3873 is located at 908 W. Jackson Avenue.
The flag-folding ceremony also was filmed by NCTV-17.
Editor’s Note / Flag Day is recognized annually on June 14 here and throughout the U.S. In addition to public schools, public buildings and polling places, many homeowners and businesses fly the American flag every day. Independence Day on July 4, 2022, is the next federal holiday when this nation will salute the flag that’s been around since 1777.
Enjoy a safe, thoughtful and happy Fourth of July.