By Chelsea Hutt, Contributing Writer
PHOENIX, NY – An exhibit of “immense gratitude and dedication” took place at the Phoenix Village Hall recently.
Stepping into the building, one saw the American Legion stately standing on one side of the stage, the VFW Phoenix chapter on the other.
On the stage, Mayor Tony Fratto spoke of the many veterans that fought for our country and how Phoenix is honored to have such admirable servicemen within its village. The “guest of honor” was behind him.
A substantial amount of people came to see the unveiling of the project created by so many of their fellow residents.
From two-year-olds to adults, people passing by to veterans from the town, all of these people contributed their time – and hands – to help make a very special flag for the entire community.
“When I volunteered to lead this project for the church, I had a vision of what it could be. But, I had no idea it would evolve into what it is today,” said project coordinator Judy Craigmile of the First United Methodist Church of Phoenix.
Her imagined outcome became a huge American flag with stripes made of handprints.
The church wished to give it to the village of Phoenix as a tribute to the public service of its veterans.
The flag unveiling received a standing ovation; the pride for this country could be felt around the room when the crowd stood and saluted the flag.
The Pledge of Allegiance was recited and the National Anthem was sung as well.
The pastor of the UMC of Phoenix said a prayer on “behalf of Judy Craigmile and her brilliant idea, and for all of the soldiers out fighting for our country.”
A moment of silence was observed for the recently fallen soldier from Chittenango who was laid to rest over the weekend.
Craigmile applauded the village on its volunteerism.
“Together as a community we have made history in Phoenix… I thank our community and neighbors for the lending of their time, their hearts, and their hands to this project,” she said.
She heard many stories while working on the project, histories about families and about the town, which she found fascinating and touching.
Craigmile was awarded a Certification of Appreciation by Mayor Fratto, recognizing her “excellent commitment, dedication, and valuable contributions to the veterans of our community and the creation of the American flag made by human hands.”
Mayor Fratto concluded the ceremony with, “For all those veterans here today, we thank you for your service and your sacrifice!”