Friday, July 4, 2014

Rose Park Stake has a flag flying again!

Flag pole at the Stake Center of the Rose Park Stake 760 N 1200 W

When I was a young boy, 10 to be exact, our Stake (a body of 7 wards or congregations - we now have eight) raised money to build a flag pole.  It was 1976, the 200th birthday of our nation and our building lacked a flag pole.  Many who helped raised money and helped build the building originally, were veterans of World War II who chose to call Rose Park home when they returned to start their families.  We have had many serve since in other ways, and frankly, Rose Park is a patriotic place.  Also that year, my father passed away in January of 1976 and had also served like me, as the Stake President of the Rose Park Stake.  The flag pole, which is tall like my dad, was to honor him as well.  The LDS Church had rightfully quit putting plaques on things to honor people but as they raised money, this was also indicated as a purpose.  Each week, as I attended Primary, then held on Tuesday afternoon, I took my money to put in the jar.  Many of the kids brought quarters but I always brought a dollar.  This was after all, something to recognize my father, who I just had lost as a young boy.  It rightfully has roses planted around it, the symbol of our community.

A few years later, lighting was added, but it fell into disrepair.  Out of respect for the flag, it was not flown 24 hours a day and gradually, it was seldom put up.  When I was Bishop of the Rose Park 9th Ward from 1993 to 1998 I would try to have a flag flown on Sundays but even that was difficult to have someone to remember to do it regularly.  With time, it almost never had a flag on it.  It always bothered me, and I knew it didn't reflect the feelings of our members but I didn't think we had an option.  I would often volunteer my family to maintain the bed that surrounded it, since it was included in our Ward's cleaning assignment.  I felt it was the least I could do.
Photo prior to my wedding reception with the lovely
Cathleen Nielsen Christensen by the flag pole
When I was married in 1990, I was serving as the Elders Quorum President of the Rose Park 9th Ward and wanted to have a reception in Rose Park as well as the one we had in Layton, where my wife lived.  There were many members who I wanted to attend, since we would be calling Rose Park home temporarily with living in my Mom's basement apartment.  I wanted a photo that would include a part of my father, since he couldn't be there with us in person, so we took this photo by the flag pole.  Needless to say, this part of our building was a sentimental thing for me.

As I was called as Stake President of the Rose Park Stake in November of 2013, 38 years after my father was released due to his cancer, I inquired about the flag pole as we reviewed maintenance needs of the buildings with the maintenance group that does such a good job keeping our buildings in repair.  I wanted to be fair in my asking of things to be repaired, since it is the Lord's money but was excited to understand that flag poles were a standard part of the package.  I inquired of ours, mentioned the challenges we had faced over the years, and the manager in charge, committed to trying to have it ready for the 4th of July.   True to his word, the lighting was fixed, a new flag placed, and a maintenance agreement in place that will keep it in good repair going forward.

I hope you'll drive by, especially at night.  It's beautiful to me.  I know I'm biased here, but I hope you'll accept it as a gift to our community as well as the members of our Stake.  I will have a few memories on top of it as well.  On this 4th of July, let me just express my gratitude to those who have worked so hard to give us the freedom we enjoy, including the freedom of religion that allows us to worship respectfully in our own way.  Thanks as well to the good people of Rose Park who have worked and sacrificed much to make this such a wonderful place to live.  Happy Birthday to the United States of America!