OLYMPIA – The town of Fairfield takes the American flag seriously – arguably more seriously than any place else in the country.
Thursday, the state saluted Fairfield for its 100 years of saluting the flag. With about two dozen current and former residents of the tiny southeast Spokane County town in the gallery, the Senate passed a resolution honoring the upcoming Flag Day centennial celebration in Fairfield in June.
The senators stood and applauded the town. The people in the gallery – many wearing ties, shirts or jackets decorated with the Stars and Stripes – stood and waved their flags.
It was not true, as one senator joked, that the whole town of Fairfield was in Olympia to hear the resolution read, said Sen. Mark Schoesler, the resolution’s sponsor. “But I bet it’s the highest percentage of any town that’s ever come to the Capitol.”
Fairfield began celebrating in 1910 the anniversary of the day in 1777 the Second Continental Congress chose the design of the flag for a fledgling nation. That was only five years after Fairfield became a town, and six years before President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation making the day a national holiday.
Walter Schaar, a Fairfield resident, said the town believes its 100 years of marking Flag Day is the longest in the country. They have marked the occasion every year, although the record is a bit foggy for 1918, the year of the Spanish Influenza epidemic. “It might not’ve been big,” he said.
This year will be big. Along with the annual parade, the local historical society will be dedicating a new flagpole in front of the Southeast Spokane County Museum housed in the old city hall, which is also 100 years old this year. The flagpole is being dedicated to the men and women in the armed services. Medal of Honor recipient Vernon Baker from nearby St. Maries, Idaho, is an invited guest and the city is hoping for a fly-over by a KC-135 from Fairchild Air Force Base.
Mayor Ed Huber, who was among those making the cross-state trip to witness the resolution, said the town wants to invite the whole state to its celebration. Not that Fairfield and its 629 residents have the infrastructure to support the whole state, mind you.
“But I would love to see a traffic jam in Fairfield,” Schaar said.
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