‘It makes a statement’: Message of unique flag at GR veterans home

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As cars zip by the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans on Monroe Avenue, it’s hard to not notice the massive American flag at the home.

The two-story tall flag is 30-feet wide and 50-feet high. 

“It just gives you goosebumps when you look at it,” said Bruce Kalish, the chaplain at the home. “It makes a statement — size matters.”

The flag, which hangs on cables connected to pair of large trees, was raised for the first time more than 20 years ago.

The original flag was smaller. 

“We graduated up to this 30 by 50,” Kalish said. “I know some trees were cleared out as well. So, it is much more visible and able to be larger.”

Donations to the home help fund the upkeep of the display. 

“We have replaced both cables and flags several times over the past few years,” Kalish said. “We’re looking for a flagpole someday that can hold a flag this size. Right now, this is what we’ve got, and she is really showing her colors today.”  

A 30-foot wide and 50-foot high American flag that is raised at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans. (May 26, 2021)

Old Glory, the flag’s nickname, is raised annually in a ceremony that takes place around Armed Forces Day. The raising of the flag is a special event for the more than 130 veterans living at the home. 

“It means a lot to them — the red, white and blue that they fought for,” Kalish said. “All that it stands for. Red for the service to their country, shedding of their blood. The white, the purity of our ideals. Blue, the faithfulness to those ideals. All of that, wrapped up in this flag flying before our home and community here in Grand Rapids.”

The flag is taken down around Veterans Day. With Memorial Day less than a week away, Kalish is asking the public to honor military personnel who died while serving. 

“When you take a bite of the hot dog, bite on a newly grilled burger, remember it’s an American soldier, marine, airman that gave their life to make that freedom possible,” Kalish said.

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