History Unfurled In Honor Of Flag Day
St. Johnsbury History & Heritage Center Displays Fallen Civil War Soldier’s 34-star Flag
BY PATRICK LOVETT
Falling between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, Flag Day is often overlooked as a public holiday — that is, unless you have a piece of flag history with which to celebrate it. In St. Johnsbury, there’s reason to celebrate.
An American flag dating back to the Civil War is now on display at the St. Johnsbury History and Heritage Center, offering a glimpse into the meaning and legacy of the Stars and Stripes.
The approximately 53-square-foot flag was recently put on display as part of the History and Heritage Center’s Civil War collection. It was made in 1861 for Second Lieutenant John W. Ramsay of St. Johnsbury, a patriot who lost his life in Virginia during the Civil War.
According to the History and Heritage Center Director Peggy Pearl, the flag may be one of a kind. “The pattern on the flag is unusual,” she said, “It’s because of the way the stars are configured.” The flag features 34 stars in the union—customary of flags made between 1861 and 1863—but they are arranged in a circle with two stars hanging off the bottom, deviating from the Nation’s official and common alternate versions.
The flag was gifted to the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium in 1935 by one of Ramsay’s relatives. It had apparently sat in storage until Heritage and History Center volunteers Randee Leightcap and Jennifer Paine recently discovered and researched the piece.
A Spirit of Loyalty to the Flag
In addition to the traditional meaning evoked by the Red, White, and Blue, Ramsay’s flag is emblematic of service and sacrifice.
Ramsay was apparently in Canada when the Civil War broke out. According to the St. Johnsbury Soldiers’ Record, “He returned to his native town, and commenced stirring up among his friends a spirit of loyalty to the Flag.”
When St. Johnsbury residents gathered in 1861 to discuss the war, Ramsay was one of the first to volunteer for service.”He was very patriotic,” said Pearl, “He was up and ready to go.”
Ramsay died in service on June 29, 1862 in the Battle of Savage’s Station. According to record, Ramsay died standing in front of his company’s line, as he customarily did. “His loss was greatly lamented,” the Soldiers’ Record stated, “He was ardently patriotic, of unquestionable bravery, and ambitious of honorable distinction.”
Ramsay’s flag remains over 150 years after his sacrifice, stained and frayed, for fellow citizens to acknowledge and appreciate.
‘A New Constellation’
Flag Day is the celebration of the adoption of the American flag. In a congressional meeting on June 14, 1777, John Adams said, “Resolved, the flag of the thirteen United States shall be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the Union be thirteen stars, white on a blue field, representing a new constellation.”
On May 30, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a presidential proclamation recognizing June 14 as a national holiday in honor of the United State’s flag. Today, Flag Day is commonly celebrated with parades, ceremonies, and a general display of the Stars and Stripes.
Peggy Pearl, left, and Nancy Goodrich present Second Lieutenant John W. Ramsay’s flag in the St. Johnsbury History and Heritage Center.
(PHOTO BY PATRICK LOVETT)
Gretchen Farnsworth (Sandy Beach Rd.) sent these photos of the loon family. She wrote:
It was so peaceful and amazing to watch the mother loon float beside her sleeping chick. They are the most amazing birds to watch.
Thanks, Gretchen for these great shots. Click on them to see them larger - notice in the second picture that both adults are positioned so no predator could surprise them.
St. Johnsbury VT 2B – Bridge Project
St. Johnsbury VT 2B – Bridge Project
Bridge and Rail Trail Closure -
The 50-day bridge closure and Lamoille Valley Rail Trail closure is currently underway. Both the bridge and rail trail are closed to all traffic at the bridge location. Separate offsite detours are in effect and marked with signs. Detour information can be found in the update below.
Trail Opening Update – The re-opening of the closed segment of the LVRT under route 2B is delayed due continued overhead work. The contractor has chosen a sequence of construction that does not permit an early re-opening of the LVRT (before the bridge and roadway are complete). The consequences of this approach are covered in the contract special provisions.
The safety of the trail users and construction workers is of most importance. The contractor is still expecting to complete both the roadway and trail work a few days before the end of June. Trail users are reminded not to enter the construction site or trespass on neighboring properties. Thank you for your patience and understanding.
Progress Update – June 15, 2017
During week of June 12th, crews continued construction of the concrete collar on the outside rim of the new corrugated arch along with Route 2B subbase work on the approaches to the bridge. Slope work throughout the project continued as well. Placement of the precast coping on top of the bridge retaining wall was rescheduled for next week. Crews are planning to finish out the week completing construction of the concrete collar on the outside rim of the arch.
Construction of the new retaining wall on a neighboring driveway was completed this week.
Crews are planning to work Saturday, June 17th, 2017 and possibly Sunday, June 18th.
Work Plan for Week of June 19, 2017
Multiple construction operations will be underway again this week as the project moves closer to completion.
In order to set the precast concrete coping on top of the bridge retaining wall, concrete leveling pads need to be constructed. The second of two pads will be constructed this week to allow for placement of the precast coping.
To prepare for paving, fine grading of the bridge and approaches is expected to be completed early this week. Paving of the new bridge and roadway approaches is tentatively planned for this week, weather permitting. Following paving, crews will install new guardrail on the bridge roadway approaches and a new steel bridge rail will be installed on the concrete base wall.
In addition to the all of the work noted above, crews are planning to work on reconstructing the rail trail and possibly constructing the timber boardwalk on the trail under the bridge.
Detour Routes- The following detours will be in effect during the bridge and trail closure period.
- VT 2B traffic will be directed to use US 2. Bicyclists are not permitted to ride on the US 2 detour. US 2 is a limited access highway.
- Trail users will be directed to use Crow Hill Road, Swett Road, Tilton Road and Parker Road, as designated by the Town of St. Johnsbury.
Detour maps can be found on the project website: http://stj2bbridge.vtransprojects.vermont.gov/index.html
It is illegal in VT to use any handheld portable electronic devices while driving. The law carries fines of up to $200 with points assessed if the violation occurs in a work zone.
Contact Francine Perkins, Project Outreach Coordinator, FRP Enterprises, LLC with any questions or concerns with regards to the project at 802-479-6994. Construction updates and project photos are posted at http://stj2bbridge.vtransprojects.vermont.gov/index.html