Brandywine’s devoted flag raiserPublished 6:18pm Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Every morning, Brandywine junior Pat VanKirk raises the American flag in front of the high school. And every afternoon before school lets out, he lowers the flag and folds it with the help of a friend.
It is a ritual he’s performed for the district the past six years, almost without fail. It’s a duty he says everyone should perform at least once.
“It is cool to be able to put up something every day that means so much to this country and basically honor everyone that has been in uniform,” he said.
Raising the flag each morning carries special significance for VanKirk because of his family’s military history.
VanKirk’s father, Terry, was a member of the United States Army. He said his grandfather’s cousin was a navigator for the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima during World War II.
When he has a hard time getting up in the morning, VanKirk thinks of the soldiers fighting oversees and finds the motivation.
“The things they put up with over there outweigh anything that I have to put up with here,” he said.
VanKirk became the school’s flag raiser by accident when he was in the sixth grade. His desk was the closest one to the door, so, when principal Tim Bagby came looking for someone to replace the old flag raiser, he was the first in line.
“I wasn’t even paying attention, and, all of a sudden, he shakes my hand and was like ‘congratulations,’” said VanKirk, who still remembers raising the flag for the first time.
“When I put it up I kept saying ‘wow,’ ‘wow’ every time I pulled the rope,” said VanKirk, who wants to be a history major one day, maybe even attend Notre Dame where his mother works. He loves reading about history and looking at old war photos, especially the ones where a soldier is leading the charge waving the American flag.
“When I see that, I think of brave trustworthy people,” VanKirk said. “He’s always holding the flag and no weapon.
“When he (Bagby) picked me to raise the flag that’s what I thought of. He must of thought I was the right guy for the job.”