HOWLAND Helpers rally to get veteran's flag flying
The 81-year-old veteran said the American flag took on even more importance Sept. 11.
By PEGGY SINKOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
HOWLAND -- For 45 years -- after fighting gunbattles in Europe during World War II, through raising a family and the infirmities of old age -- Charles Clark has looked toward the 30-foot flag pole in front of his modest township home.
"There haven't been too many constants in my life since I came back from the war, but flying the flag every day was one of them," said Clark, of East Market Street.
The 81-year-old veteran said the American flag took on even more importance after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"To me, it's a symbol of freedom and hope. It's very important to me to have it flying day and night."
Clark said a few days after the terrorist attacks the rope that held his flag broke and he was unable to fix it.
Seeking help: "He was horribly upset," said Lucie Thompson, a Vindicator newspaper delivery woman.
"Right after the attacks, I went to a store to buy an American flag, and Channel 21 was there and interviewed me. Charles saw me on TV, and the next day when I stopped to deliver his paper he came up to me and told me what had happened to his flag."
Thompson said she wanted to help but she doesn't own a ladder.
"I didn't have the equipment to help him, but I do have a mouth, so I started calling veterans organizations to find someone that may be able to fix the problem," said Thompson.
Getting no response for several weeks, she decided to drop a note in the mailboxes of a couple of influential people on her route. Police Chief Steve Lamantia called her and told her he would have Officer Jim Campbell contact Clark.
"I went to visit Mr. Clark and to look at the pole," Campbell said. "Mr. Clark started talking about how the flag was important to him and tears ran down his face.
"I knew then that I had to fix the pole."
On Nov. 12, the day after Veterans Day, Clark's flag was once again flying.
Campbell, a Vietnam veteran, said he used funds from the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 137 to buy the 50-foot rope he needed for repairs.
"John Siwicki, who has a bucket truck, came on his own time for free to assist me," Campbell said. "Mr. Clark has a spotlight on the flag so it can fly at night, and we also repaired the electric eye on that so the light works now, too."
Thankful: Clark said it is hard for him to describe how much Thompson's and Campbell's kindness meant to him.
"I didn't think anyone would care," said Clark, who lives with his daughter, Pat.
"My wife's in a nursing home, and I didn't know if anyone else would know how important it was to me, but I was wrong."