RUTLAND- Question:What's big, red, white and blue and touring the nation? Answer: The famous Patriot Flag, a giant 55-foot-wide, 75-pound United States flag.
The Patriot Flag, which has been touring the nation since last summer, is a dynamic memorial to those who lost their lives during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.The stars and stripes will proudly stream outside Rutland City Hall on Tuesday, June 28.
To honor the flag and the fallen, Merchants Row downtown will be closed while the flag flies, 3-6 p.m.
The mobile exhibit, operated by the "United We Stand" World Memorial, was actually inspired by the 2010 death of ex-West Rutland resident and U.S. Navy veteran Alex Kapitanski.
As a youth growing up in Rutland County, Kapitanski was an active Boy Scout. As a scout he learned to love the U.S. Flag Code as well as proudly flying the stars and stripes.
While living in California in his later years, Kapitanski started to travle around the nation and fly U.S. flags-millions of them-as a gentle hobby.
With a growing reputation as America's Flag Man, Kapitanski soon became the number one grand marshall at several big city patriotic parades around the nation. He died, with full U.S. Navy military honors, at the age of 86.
The Kaitanski-inspired flag will make its Rutland debut thanks to the efforts of the Red Knights firefighter motorcycle club.
According to local Red Knights member Andrew Megrath, the flag will be flown in Bennington June 27 prior to its Rutland display.
"This flag honors the fallen and belongs to all Americans; it is big, red, white and blue and touring the U.S.A.," said Megrath.
Two Rutland City fire trucks will be moored outside City Hall to fly the monster flag.
In the event of rain, the flag will be unfurled inside Spartan Arena behind Diamond RunMall.
According to World Memorial officials, the flag tour "represents the resolve of Americans and their quest to live free."
The flag also honors living public safety personnel-firefighters, police, EMTs and SAR workers-willing to risk their lives for others.
The flag was donated to the non-profit World Memorial organization by a group of U.S. businessmen through the American Legion Post J.B. Clark Post 149.
The flag's cross-country tour began in San Diego on Aug. 10, 2010.
After the tour wraps up in California, the flag will head east, again, to Pennsylvania, New York City, and the Pentagon, as well as Arlington National Cemetery, on Sept. 11.
By Sept. 11, the flag will have toured in all the 50 states of the union. Tour organizers said they are still looking for a final home for the big flag.