A FLAG THAT is 20 feet by 60 feet dwarfs almost everything in Forks.
Let me put it this way: On Saturday, it took a color guard of 13 men and women to control the huge flag, not allowing it to be carried away in the strong breeze or touch the ground.
These uniformed volunteers came from Coast Guard Station Quillayute River.
The community had an open invitation to gather at the base of the Tillicum Park flagpole at 11 a.m. The small parking lot at the park was filled and people had begun parking across the street and in any close-enough-to-legal spots.
If anyone arrived after 11:10 a.m., they missed the whole ceremony.
After a casually dressed man spoke words that were stolen by the wind, the color guard marched to the base of the flagpole.
When a tall, uniformed man picked up the oversized triangle of folded flag, it was obvious this standard wasn’t standard.
Carefully, the Coast Guard team worked together to unfold this unruly stretch of fabric.
One person held the folded triangle portion and wrestled to get it unfolded, its awkward size constantly being pulled by gravity.
The rest of the color guard stood divided along the long sides of the flag and facing each other.
As the fabric was unfolded, they moved in unison away from the base of the pole under regular commands of “Shift” shouted firmly into the breeze.
Once the flag was hoisted and the heading’s brass grommets attached to the halyard, the flag tried to race to freedom.
The wind caught the high, unfolded portion of the flag and threatened to cover a couple of the uniformed guards like plastic wrap.
In a successful attempt to get the wild ensign under control, it was briefly lowered, the portion threatening to sail away but brought under control with swift hands.
Up the flag went again.
This time the unfolding was done with urgency. When it was flying free, the waving flag was a beautiful sight as it danced and whipped in the wind.
Somewhat surprisingly, the pole was whipping in the wind too, straining to hold together. The standard was pulling the pole east, rocking the top in the air, the gold finial like a bobber on a river.
Most of the crowd spent time admiring the flag with its enormous size and strength in flight. Then the entire dedication ceremony was over, as quickly as it started.
Zorina Barker has lived on the West End for most of her life. She is married to a Forks native who works in the timber industry. Both of her kids have been home-schooled in the wilds of the Sol Duc Valley. She can be reached at 360-461-7928 or [email protected]
West End Neighbor appears in the PDN every other Tuesday.
Her next column will be May 14.