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Annual Four Flags ceremony recognizes heritage

Scouts from Boy Scout Troop 13 raise the historic Fleur-de-Lis French Flag.

The annual Four Flags ceremony recognizes the heritage of Warren County.

The four flags raised each spring and flown over Heritage Point, Crescent Park, in Warren, represent the four nations that have held dominion over the Warren County area through the ages.

The first to be raised during Saturday’s ceremony represented the Seneca Nation of Indians. It is not a replica of a historic flag because the Nation does not have a history of flying any flag. The one flown at Heritage Park was designed specifically for that use.

The others are historic flags — and represented the nations at about the time when Warren County first came under their sway.

The French Fleur-de-Lis flag represents the French occupation during the late 16th century.

Brody Alexander of Boy Scout Troop 13 accept the replica Betsy Ross American Flag from Fran Perrin of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

The British King’s Colors followed.

Finally, the Betsy Ross American flag was raised.

Master of Ceremonies John Shaughnesy explained that, because the American Betsy Ross flag is a historic flag, it could be raised to full staff despite decrees that American flags be flown at half-staff to honor the victims of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, as well as in recognition of Memorial Day.

The keynote speaker for the event was Piper VanOrd.

She spoke of the natural heritage of Warren County — and compared it to the surroundings of a Ukrainian refugee camp she recently visited. Like many, VanOrd once vowed she would never return to Warren County. Then, during a visit, she wondered, “when did we install a national forest and all the rivers and creeks?”

Scouts from Boy Scout Troop 13 raise the flag representing the Seneca Nation of Indians.

Not long after that visit, she learned that the job she had been training for and had moved to Anchorage, Alaska, for, would not be available.

She searched the Warren Times Observer online, she said, and clicked on ‘business opportunities.’

There she found Allegheny Outfitters.

“It called us,” she said. “The natural beauty. The forest. The river. The creeks.”

They returned to Warren County. “The first few years, we spent every waking moment exploring every nook and cranny,” VanOrd said. “Every moment you spend exploring the more you fall in love.”

Scouts from Boy Scout Troop 13 raise the replica Betsy Ross American Flag during the Four Flags ceremony Saturday morning at Heritage Point, Crescent Park, in Warren.

While on a humanitarian mission to Ukraine and Poland, she was invited to take a walk around the area.

“The small refugee center houses 80 women and children that have left their entire worlds behind,” she said. After a long day, they went for a walk with the woman who runs the center.

“What started as a walk turned quickly to a nature tour,” VanOrd said.

They waded in the river. They looked at the plants and the animals. It was all similar to Warren County.

“Tatiana agreed nature is a healing force,” VanOrd said.

She asked Tatiana if there was anything more they could do.

“She said, ‘We only need one thing. Peace. When we have peace, we can go home,'” VanOrd said. “I hope, pray, wish with everything I have that they are able to find peace.”

“We are so lucky to be surrounded by this and to be surrounded by a community that gives, cares, and loves one another,” she said.

This year’s Four Flags ceremony was dedicated to Joint Service Club Committee Member John McGarry. McGarry was a dedicated member of the Four Flags Committee for many years and an enthusiastic support of the event, Shaughnesy said. McGarry passed away on May 19.

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