The Village of Forest Park officially dedicated the second village hall flagpole, more than a month after it was installed.
The second pole was purchased last year to accommodate more flags, but when it came time to put it up, the village council deadlocked on authorizing the spending.
Commissioner Michelle Melin-Rogovin launched a GoFundMe online fundraising campaign and worked with the Forest Park American Legion Post 414 to raise the $3,000-cost of the pole. She had told the Review that she wanted a ceremony to mark the occasion, but it took a while to schedule working with Forest Park Scout Troup 107, whose members served as color guards.
At Thursday’s ceremony, Melin-Rogovin said that it was fitting that it ended up happening the two days before Veterans Day. Mayor Rory Hoskins, who actively pushed for a second flagpole, acknowledged the long and winding road to get there, but said that he appreciated the civic spirit that made it possible.
The ceremony kicked off with the scouts carrying a folded American flag up to the poll, carefully unfolding it and, with the help of the village staff, raising it. As the flag rose, the Scouts led the attendees in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
Hoskins noted that the new flagpole is “a little taller” than the first, specifically so that the American flag could be mounted on it. He said that he was pleased to see it installed.
“There was a lot of input, a lot of emotion,” Hoskins said. “But the community rallied, and Commissioner Melin-Rogovin really stepped up with the GoFundMe campaign.”
Post 414 member Mike Thomspon said that American Legion members and Forest Park veterans in general were happy to do their part.
“On behalf of the American Legion and the veterans of Forest Park, I would like to thank [Melin-Rogovin] for the great job,” he said.
Melin-Rogovin said that the flagpoles and the fact that the fundraising campaign succeeded reflected well on Forest Park.
“It’s about honoring and making sure we can display flags that honor the sacrifices and diversity and dignity and vibrancy of our community appropriately,” she said. “This project allowed our community to come together creatively with love and respect.”
Hoskins proposed adding a flagpole because he wanted to regularly display more government flags than there’s currently room for, while also having more room for commemorative flags such as the Juneteenth flag and the Pride flag. He said he was concerned that if too many flags are up on the one flagpole, lowering them half-mast would put the lower flags too close to the ground.
Illinois Flag Code requires that, when a Forest Parker servicing in any branch of the armed forces is killed in action, the village must display the flag of whatever branch they served at half-staff.
The village council voted on whether to spend $3,000 on the flagpole in June. Commissioners Ryan Nero and Maria Maxham balked, saying that the money should be spent on other, more pressing matters. With Commissioner Jessica Voogd absent and Melin-Rogovin and Hoskins voting in favor, the council deadlocked.
Melin-Rogovin at the time told the Review that her constituents gave her the idea to do a fundraiser.
According to the fundraiser page, she donated $1,000 to the campaign. The American Legion and Forest Park Kiwanis donated $600 and $250, respectfully. The campaign got an anonymous $225 donation. Forest Park School District 91 Board of Education members Shannon Wood and Kyra Tyler contributed $25 each. The rest of the donation mostly came from Forest Park residents, business owners and elected officials.