This article can be found published on the Daily Local News‘ website.
WEST CHESTER — Dave Pawlewicz’s American flag may have started off as just a simple, store-bought flag in 1999, but almost 20 years later, that flag, named Old Glory, has become well-known and has flown over historic and significant locations across the globe.
For one of its stops along the world tour, known as “Old Glory Travels America’s Freedom Road,” the flag swung by West Chester as part of a salute to law enforcement on Friday morning.
“The people we honor really appreciate it and they get emotional sometimes about it,” Pawlewicz said. “It was in West Chester (before) a couple of days after 9/11.”
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Pawlewicz, whose grandfather served in World War I and father served in World War II and even he was in the Air Force, wanted to do something in 1999 and that’s when Old Glory came in and was first raised in Valley Forge.
“I just decided to do it,” he said. “Back when I started, the country was kind of ablaze and not as patriotic. The idea was to take the flag all over the country and celebrate the freedoms of our country and commemorate and celebrate important events in our history and the veterans and the police, firemen and EMTs.”
Since that time, Old Glory has grown in popularity and has now participated in ceremonies, parades, school visits and more.
Some of the more well-known areas it has gone to is Ground Zero, Kitty Hawk, the Pentagon, Fort McHenry, Mount Rushmore, Pearl Harbor, Midway Island, Iwo Jima, Normandy, Japan, Italy, Korea, Iraq, Bosnia, Afghanistan and many, many more places.
On Friday, Pawlewicz, who lives in Westtown, wanted to recognize the law enforcement in his backyard as part of National Police Week.
“I live here and the flag was here and I thought we should honor the police,” he said. “They go through a lot.”
At the steps of the Old Historic Courthouse, representatives from the police departments of West Chester, Westtown-East Goshen, West Goshen and West Chester University, along with the Chester County Sheriff’s Office and the Pennsylvania State Police from the Embreeville Barracks took part in the ceremony.
Each of the officers in attendance had the opportunity to hold the symbolic flag that has been to so many meaningful places.
Sometimes it shocks Pawlewicz with how big Old Glory has become, and he shares some of the more memorable stories from its travels.
“The flag was in Pearl Harbor for the 60th (anniversary) and it had to be back in New York City for a Ground Zero ceremony,” he said. “It flew into Dulles Airport the day before I had to go up to New York. Lo and behold, at 10 o’clock at night, there was a knock at my door and the FedEx driver drove all the way from Washington just to bring the flag so it could go to Ground Zero the next day. I cry every time I tell that story.”