Photo:244 years after first being raised, the Grand Union Flag flies again from Prospect Hill
By Jason Sokolov
The 244th commemoration of the first land raising of the American flag was held on New Year’s Day, January 1, 2020 in Somerville, with a procession starting at the City Hall and proceeding to Prospect Hill for the flag raising. This very first national flag, adopted by the Continental Congress on December 3, 1775 and known at “The Grand Union Flag”, was our official flag until June of 1777. As our first flag, it is still a revered symbol of the nation’s struggle for independence. The commemoration also recognizes the official creation of the Continental Army in 1775. General George Washington, in command of the Continental Army, had surrounded the British garrison in Boston and had his headquarters nearby. Notified of the adoption of this official new flag, he raised it on New Year’s Day, 1776. Newly appointed LT John Paul Jones reportedly raised the flag at sea aboard the Alfred on the date of adoption.
Accompanied by a fife and drum. a mounted “General George Washington” led the procession, followed by, Somerville City Officials, a contingent of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts, Rhode Island Militia, Massachusetts Militia. Other units joining in were His Majesty’s 10th Regiment of Foot, American Legion Post 19, and over 100 individuals, many in colonial attire, who marched in mild winter conditions from Somerville City Hall to Prospect Hill. A brief ceremony including historic information, patriotic songs, and a flag-raising concluded the event. A collation at the Mt. Vernon Restaurant followed
Organizing these ceremonies was the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts under the command of Captain Nicholas Schrazzi, and members 1LT Robert Imlach, 2LT Thomas Goodfellow, BG John Driscoll (MAANG), LTC David Anderson, SGT Robert Collins, MSGT Robert Duval, SGT Chuck Fazio, LT Robert Flynn, 1SGT Tim Haraden, 1LT Robert Horan, LT Martin Henry, SGT Greg Keelan, MSG Gerard Kelley, SGT Lawrence Knowles, SGT James Linardy, SGT George Marolette, LTC James Marques, BG Paul Modestino, LT Joseph Regan, LT Donald Schrazzi (Flag Bearer), Sgt John Sidoti, SGT Chris Sidoti, CPL Donald Strunk, Gail Thomas, LT Paul,Wouri, 1SGT Brian Ward-NCOIC). Somerville’s own COL Lawrence Willwerth, acted as Commander of Troops, as he has done for the last ten years. Members of the Rhode Island Militia (COL Robert Shirika-Kentish Guards), the Greater Boston Chapter of the Military Order of the World Wars and Massachusetts Militia (Bedford Minutemen and Glovers’s Regiment) also supported the event.
Photo:The Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts preparing the flag
Photo:“General George Washington” arrives to take command of the ceremonies.
Photo:The Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company and Re-enactors Await the Start of Ceremonies