Published Date Written by Jim Lewis
Those U.S. flags that lined the streets of Middletown’s business district on patriotic holidays – Independence Day, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Labor Day and the days of elections, among others – were erected by one man, Sam Bangert. How he inherited the duty from local Boy Scouts and borough government is a story about the closeness of a small town like Middletown, and the devotion its residents feel for it.
For nearly 25 years, Bangert has led the charge in what is Middletown’s only July 4 tradition. He’s 70 now, and looking for someone to take over the duty. He’s been looking for the past five years, in fact – to no avail.
At its peak of popularity, the patriotic display reached 114 flags flying on poles around town, paid for by individual sponsors and businesses. Lately, Bangert has put up fewer flags, but the responsibility still is daunting, physically and mentally.
Twisting the poles into the sidewalk has taken a toll on his wrists, and he feels “dead beat’’ at the end of each patriotic holiday from installing and removing the flags. And he hasn’t been able to get away on holidays like everyone else, because he had to be in Middletown to take the flags down quickly.
So after Armed Forces Day on May 17, Bangert stopped, he told our reporter, Dan Miller, in a story on A1 of this edition. You can’t blame him. The fact that he carried out his flag duty for so long is absolutely amazing, and a credit to his character and devotion to his town, his country and those who served.
Bangert still has the flags and poles in a trailer at his house. He’s hoping individuals and businesses will buy their own flag and pole from him for $10 and put it up for holidays.
His flag displays are one of the things that made Middletown unique. And such a show of patriotism is a source of pride in Middletown, where military service is valued – look at the number of flags flown from porches on patriotic holidays as proof.
It would be a shame for Bangert’s one-man tradition to end. Will someone step forward to preserve it? We hope so.