Ellen Peoples’ tradition of tradition of raising the American flag on the 4th of July will continue thanks to the fire department in Portland, Maine.
Ellen is 97 and for the most part has lived on her own since her husband, a World War II combat veteran, passed away in 1973. In honor of her husband, she flies the American flag as much as possible, especially on patriotic holidays like the 4th of July.
Last week, all of that was in jeopardy when the rope on her 20-foot high flagpole broke. Her first call was to her son, Alan, who buys her a new flag every year. But while Alan is good for rides to doctor appointments, the 61-year old isn’t exactly fit to repair a flagpole.
However, Alan suggested calling the Portland Fire Department. One of Ellen’s caretakers made the call and before too long firefighters Ron Giroux Jr. and Jesse Peters pulled up to her house in a big red truck.
Ellen sat in her garage nestled in her favorite tan chair as Giroux used the truck’s aerial ladder to reach the top of the flagpole. Without half an hour, the flag was back to blowing in the wind like normal.
“This is not a typical call,” said Giroux. “We do help people with a lot of different things, whether it’s neighborhood kids coming to the fire station to have their bikes fixed or put air in their tires. But it was the first time we fixed a flagpole.”
Ellen couldn’t have been more pleased. When Giroux got down from the ladder, he and Peters joined her in saluting the flag. The two firefighters then stuck around and spoke with Ellen about her husband’s service in World War II until they were called away for another job.
A post on the fire department’s Facebook page has received more nearly 4,000 likes and over 1,000 shares. The attention blew Ellen away.
“I can’t believe it,” she said upon hearing how many people responded positively to her story. “That’s a lot of people.”