BATAVIA – Flag Day has special meaning in Batavia, home to the founder of the national observance and soon to be the home of a stunning monument celebrating the history of the Stars and Stripes.
Batavia will celebrate Flag Day from 6 to 9 p.m. on June 14 along the Batavia Riverwalk, between Depot Pond and Batavia City Hall.
There will be a free concert by the Batavia Community Band, a patriotic sing-along, luminarias, food vendors and a presentation about the ambitious Batavia Flag Day Monument expected to be dedicated on the Riverwalk in 2020.
The event is being organized by the Batavia Flag Day Committee as well as the Fox Valley Patriotic Organization, the group working to create the Flag Day Monument.
As every Batavia elementary school student learns, the founder of Flag Day was Dr. Bernard J. Cigrand, a Batavia dentist who campaigned for 30 years for creation of the American Flag Day observance, and finally succeeded 103 years ago.
In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Flag Day as June 14, recognizing the day in 1777 when the Second Continental Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes as the nation’s flag.
In 1946, National Flag Day was established by an act of Congress.
Installation of the Batavia Flag Day Monument is expected to get underway early next year and to be completed in time for the June 14, 2020 dedication.
The monument will pay homage to Old Glory, American history and Cigrand.
Designed by Batavia architect Steve Vasilion, the monument will occupy a prime location in front of Batavia City Hall on an open space between the west parking lot and the Island Avenue traffic circle, immediately east of the Riverwalk’s Peg Bond Center.
A circular helix, 40 feet in diameter, will rise from a little more than three-feet-high to about eight-and-half-feet tall.
The one-foot-thick poured concrete helix walls are to feature recessed bands, colored red, white and blue, running around the length of the monument, commemorating the evolution of the American flag, great moments in American history and local events.
“We’re telling the story of our great nation through the 27 official versions of the flag that have flown over America,” said Austin Dempsey of Batavia, who is leading the drive by the Fox Valley Patriotic Organization to establish the monument.
The perimeter will be interspersed with five marble-clad obelisks standing about 10 feet tall, each commemorating great moments in the history of the flag.
These are to include Cigrand and Flag Day, creation of the first flag by Betsy Ross, the writing of the national anthem by Francis Scott Key, the flag-raising on Iwo Jima during World War II and the 1969 moon landing.
The monument will be centered on a 50-foot-tall flag pole flying the Stars and Stripes. Outside the helix, a 10-foot-wide sidewalk will circle the monument.
The cost of the monument is now placed at about $900,000, Dempsey said.
Pledges from the Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley and from the Dunham Fund, along with additional donations, have already produced more than $350,000, Dempsey said.
Fund-raising efforts also include the sale of laser-engraved memorial bricks that will be laid around the monument site and will be sold at the Flag Day celebration.
Dempsey said the laser inscriptions will allow for a lasting memorial or message to be displayed.
The cost of a 4x8-inch brick paver, with up to three lines of text, is $150.
An 8x8-inch paver with up to six lines of text is $300. Finally, an 8x8-inch paver featuring pictures, logos or other art elements may be purchased for $500.