PERU — For a month, Clinton Delano, 86, has been attempting to get the American flag raised at the local post office. On Monday afternoon, just in time for Election Day, he got to see his wish fulfilled.
A field maintenance crew sent by the U.S Postal Service arrived at the Peru Post Office around 2 p.m. to fix the broken flagpole that was preventing the flag from being raised. Delano was on hand to watch Matt Morgan of the Sign Store and Flag Center in Auburn fix the pole and raise the flag.
Len Greaney, a close friend of Delano and a Korean War veteran who helped expedite a solution to the broken flagpole, watched the flag as it was raised, along with Mexico resident Gary Coffin.
“Old Glory is waving again,” Coffin said as the flag finally reached the top.
Delano, a World War II veteran and resident of Peru, said this isn't the first time the flagpole has been broken. According to Delano, two years ago, the winch that allows the flag to be raised and lowered broke. He said he complained about it until the post office finally fixed it. There were no problems until a month ago when it broke again.
“I was racking my brain, trying to figure out a way to get this done before Veterans Day,” Delano said, “because it irks me to think that the flag could go without being flown for so long.”
At one point, Carol Powell, postmaster for the Peru Post Office, along with her husband, Selectman Richard “Dickie” Powell, set up a makeshift pole to hold the flag next to the flagpole by sticking it into a cinder block. However, Carol Powell was told she had to take it down, deferring comment to Tom Rizzo, spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service Northern New England District in Portland.
Rizzo said on Friday that he wasn't sure who told her to take it down, but would find out. As of Monday afternoon, Rizzo said that it was a safety matter, in that the makeshift flag was seen as something that would be difficult for the postmaster to set up and take down on a daily basis.
Greaney said he became involved after Delano gave him a call for advice.
“Mr. Delano never came out and asked for help,” Greaney said. “That's the kind of man he is. Instead, he just asked for advice. 'What are your thoughts?' he asked.”
Greaney was able to get in touch with Rizzo and work out a plan to get the flag raised before Election Day. According to Greaney, he and Rizzo came up with a plan Monday morning to send a field maintenance crew to the Peru Post Office that same day to fix the flagpole.
Delano and a group of residents were prepared to raise the flag themselves in the event that the Postal Service didn't do anything to help. Delano said they would've retrofitted the flagpole themselves using their personal materials and tools.
Delano said it was his love for what the flag means to him and the country that lead him to speak out.
“I didn't do this for any pats on the back, or self-aggrandizement,” Delano said. “There are so many people nowadays that would like to see the flag shredded and the Constitution burned. It didn't seem like many people gave a hoot that the flag wasn't flying. Well, I give a hoot.”
After the flag was raised, Delano, Greaney and Coffin were all smiles, but Greaney believes there may be a better solution in the future if the flagpole were to break again. He said he did research at home and learned that the current method the Postal Service has to set up the flagpole, between the materials, tools and labor, costs upward of $1,000. Greaney believes there's a cheaper and more efficient way to set up the flagpole.
He said the Post Office could save hundreds of dollars by using the same method on the flagpole that boat owners use to raise a sail. The materials include a pulley to attach to the top of the flagpole, a lanyard rope and a cleat to be mounted approximately 4 feet from the flagpole base to fix the position of the flag to full or half staff as required.
Greaney had high praise for Delano after the flag raising, pointing out his vigilance in pursuing the matter and how his love for his country got the ball rolling.
“This is a win/win situation for the residents of Peru and for the U.S Postal Service,” Greaney said. “It's a perfect example of people helping people.”