On Tuesday, June 14 from 11:00 a.m. until 12:00 noon, South Boston Neighborhood House (SBNH) staff and members of the Senior Center celebrated Flag Day, as well as the raising our their own flag. SBNH Executive Director, Kathy Lafferty, opened the program with a Moment of Silence for all of the individuals impacted by the recent horrific tragedy in Orlando, Florida.
Senator Linda Dorcena Forry (in absentia) and Representative Collins were then thanked for the support they give to the community and especially to our seniors. The SBNH staff is so grateful this year to have been approved in both the House and the Senate budget for a line item that will support their seniors and the work which SBNH staff members undertake at the Ollie.
Representative Collins was applauded when he was introduced. He said he was honored to be part of the Ollie day and happy, after years of advocating on their behalf, that the line item granting the SBNH Senior Center state aid was passed. He said he and Senator Dorcena Forry are proud of the support that it will give to South Boston seniors. Rep Collins also spoke about the meaning behind the American Flag and shared with the crowd the importance of the colors on our flag.
Then it was time to talk more about Flag Day and the highly-anticipated flag-raising ceremony.
“In addition to the American Flag we also had a flag made with the Ollie/SBNH logo,” Lafferty said. “That is something else we are very proud of and so today both flags fly in front of our building.
“Our seniors through our Senior Advocate, Carole Sullivan, have been asking that SBNH purchase a flag to be hung on the empty flag pole in front of our building,” Lafferty added. “It has been something we had hoped to do but never happened until very recently. Barbara Coyne, a longtime SBNH employee was recently promoted to Director of Business Operations and made this her first priority. Within weeks in her new position we had a flag. So, thanks to Carole Sullivan, our seniors and Barbara Coyne we came together to raise our flag for the first time!”
Lafferty then shared a wonderful story which was told to her by a SBNH Board Member:
“On Flag Day in1994, my cousin Siobhan arrived from Bantry, Co. Cork to spend the summer with me. She was nineteen and it was her first trip out of Ireland! As you might expect, she was shy and quiet when she first arrived. As the summer evolved, she opened up and shared her opinions of the world she presumed, assumed and supposed existed versus the one she was discovering. Months and years later, when asked to share her impressions, she repeatedly said something that I will always remember. She will tell me that she arrived on Flag Day and attributed our display of the flag as a simple and singular display of national pride, but came to realize that American’s really are proud of whom we are, our history, our country, and all that we stand for. She went on to say that in Ireland, very rarely would you see a home with a flag pole and the flag flying all the time! And here, you sing about your country, you brag about it, you have public celebrations to honor yourselves and your country, you have hundreds of museums that preserve your history and you are really proud of the immigrants, your diversity, your ethnicity, and you celebrate how hard you have worked to be the country you are! The Irish don’t do that. We remember and honor the bad and the sad. Lot’s has changed since 1994, both in Ireland and the United States but the impressions of that nineteen year old are still true here! Enjoy your new flag and all that it stands for!”
The Star Spangled Banner was subsequently sung by the crowd as the flag was raised followed by a sing-a-long with the seniors.