Old Glory raised again over Armory

By Atoosa Sayeh

As the rain started to pour, viewers watched as Old Glory was raised and then went inside the Armory to discuss the historical event.

“Today, we made history by raising the stars and stripes again over the Armory building on the original flagpole that was installed in 1926,” said Lt. Col. Eric Stetson, professor in military science.

About 50 people came out for the ceremony. Participants included former and current University ROTC members, veterans and community members. One of the participants was WWII veteran and 1943 alumnus Jerry Howe. Howe said he came to the event with hopes of finding other WWII veterans.

“There’s not a lot of us out there anymore,” Howe said. “I came out here today to share my memories with others and see how much the school has changed since I went here.”

Howe was at Illinois when Old Glory was still flying over the Armory. According to Stetson, Old Glory stopped being utilized around the 1970s for unknown reasons.

“We don’t know why the flagpole wasn’t in use for forty years. It’s kind of a mystery,” Stetson said. “Regardless of why, we decided it’s time to change it, fix it, and make it right.”

Dennis Stubblefield, 1966 alumnus, came to the ceremony with Howe and was excited to see the flag raised again.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity that the flag is flying again,” Stubblefield said. “It is as it should be. This is an occasion for us to reflect on our history and then pass it on to the next generation, and we are just privileged to be part of this.”

According to Stetson, the project to restore Old Glory started in 2013 and was led by community members, including President Easter. A six-month fundraising campaign was then held to raise the $25,000 that was needed to restore the flagpole and install a new ladder, a safety and harness system, and a solar-powered lighting system.

The funding came from military organizations, community members and the University. Some of the funds will also contribute to the future restoration of the south side of the Armory.

Stetson, who is retiring, voiced his appreciation for completing the project before he leaves.

“It was really our honor to … be the team to be here and get it done with the community and see it go up before we, as active-duty personnel, rotate out from these posts,” Stetson said.

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