Somerville’s 241st Grand Union Flag Raising on Prospect Hill 2017

Photos by Frank Santangelo & Rosalee Zammuto

By William Tauro 

In its annual tradition, the City of Somerville kicked off the New Year (and Somerville’s 175th Birthday celebrations) this past Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017, with a reenactment ceremony for the 241st anniversary of the “Grand Union” flag-raising ceremony at Prospect Hill Park. 
The ceremony began at Prospect Hill at noon with a a processional led by a re-enactor portraying General George Washington on horseback which left from the City Hall Concourse at 11:30 a.m. 
As always, members of the public were invited to participate, and were encouraged to wear traditional colonial clothing. The annual ceremony commemorated the raising of the nation’s first official flag, featuring thirteen red and white horizontal stripes, atop Prospect Hill on New Year’s Day, 1776. At the time, Prospect Hill was a key site in a string of fortifications created by Washington and the Continental Army in their siege of British troops in Boston during the first year of the American Revolution. 


The afternoon’s program included songs, readings, and participants from local militia, and the Ancient and Honorable Company (first chartered in 1638, as well as His Majesty’s 10th Regiment of Foot, who will be representing the British Army and will be bringing a message from King George III. Brigadier General Richard Johnson for Massachusetts, and the American Legion Post 19 Honor Guard lead a military salute as a commemorative flag was raised atop the Prospect Hill Tower. 
Finally, in honor of the kickoff of the City’s 175th Birthday year, Byron DeLear of the North American Vexillological Association shared his newest findings about the significance of the Grand Union Flag and its connection to the name of our nation. 


Light refreshments were served, and miniature replicas of the Grand Union Flag, both as a flag and a lapel pin, as well as colonial-era tri corner hats and a few items highlighting the City’s historic assets were available for purchase. The recently stabilized Tower through Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds was also open to the public following the ceremony

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