In the aftermath of the temporary flag ban, the colors red, white and blue are more prevalent around town. The notion that people would think Wrentham is unpatriotic bothers many in the community and, in fact, that idea is antithetical to the truth. Wrentham has always had an extremely patriotic reputation with large numbers attending the annual Memorial Day parade and services, as well as having many efforts throughout the town in support of the men and women in our services. "As far as the town being patriotic it's incredible," says Joe Manning, vice commander of American Legion Auxiliary at George W. MacInnis Wrentham Post 225, located on South St. "I would put our crowds at Memorial Day up against any town. I've been marching in the parade for over 20 years and I still get goosebumps when we reach the town center."
The response Manning and his fellow veterans receive is always positive and heartwarming. "Talk to any veteran that marched in our parade," Manning says. "We have vets coming in from other towns because it's such a huge turnout and you really feel important. All these flags waving and all the smiling faces, it's really a good feeling."
At this year's service, Ken Oles, the Town's Veteran's Service Officer, commented on how refreshing it was to see young children cover their hearts as the flag would pass by in the parade. At the service many eyes welled with tears as Holly Cafferky of American Legion Post 225, emotionally read the poem, "I am the Flag of the United States of America" by Howard Schnauber.
U.S. Senator Scott Brown agrees that not only is Wrentham a patriotic community, the people living in the Garden Lane Apartments, the sight of the controversy, are too. "I know that area around the complex. It's actually part of my usual running route," Brown said via an email statement. "Veterans live there along with a lot of folks who are deeply proud of our country and our heritage. I'm glad that the state quickly reversed itself because Wrentham is very patriotic. I know my neighbors, I know the local officials. My home town loves this country, and that's evidenced by the community's overwhelming response over the last day."
On the Friday after the controversy broke, and was quickly resolved with the flag ban being lifted and called a mistake, a rally for Old Glory was organized by the Wrentham Republican Committee. Nearly two dozen people came out to the Town Common waving their American Flags. Their presence was a welcome sight to many as car horns blared in support with people waving and smiling at the crowd.
Wrentham's Kevin Murphy wanted to be out there for his new country. Murphy, originally from Ireland, became a citizen a year and half ago and showing his support for the U.S.A. and his community was important. "I know the value of the flag," Murphy said. "I know what it's worth. Being able to participate in the democratic process is a great privilege."
The town's deep patriotic support also runs through its businesses and organizations in town. Absolute Health Chiropractic, located in the center of town, has offered free chiropractic adjustments to returning service men and women for years. The new Terrace Cafe opened by Nancy Lockwood and her son Josh Walker, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, will help support the Wounded Warrior Project. On certain nights, the profits from Budweiser sales will be donated directly to the charity with the mission of helping wounded service members. "It's very important to us," Lockwood
The town also stepped up in large numbers to support Boy Scout Troy Neubecker as he took on the daunting task of raising $20,000 to construct a memorial to 9/11. The support Neubecker received from the town was so positive that he reached his goal and the memorial is scheduled to be constructed and dedicated this September. Wrentham Public Schools is also a source of patriotic spirit. Every year the students conduct their own Memorial Day program. Many wear red, white and blue and each grade sings a patriotic song or recites a poem. The kindergarten leads the assembly with the Pledge of Allegiance and parents are invited to the ceremony.
Just this past month, the Wrentham Public Health Nurses announced they're collecting foot care and toiletries for homeless veterans in need.
The flag controversy did result in the nasty attacks of Wrentham and its officials. The response was so negative that the Chairman of the Board of Selectmen, Joe Botaish, released a statement in defense of the people working in the Town. "It is disgraceful that people who are doing their jobs at Town Hall are being accused of a lack of patriotism, and that officials are being accused of actions that they never took," Botaish said. "All the while Wrentham is being accused of being unpatriotic American flags fly over the Town Common, Town Hall and many other public and private buildings.
All the while town employees and town officials are being accused of disrespecting our veterans American flags fly over monuments dedicated to those defended it from the Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam which are arrayed along the Town Common, and among the graves of veterans in the Town cemetery."
As a result of the controversy, one can anticipate more flags to be displayed around town. The American Legion is actually looking into providing a flag to every apartment on Garden Lane. "We're going to try and raise money to get everyone a flag that needs one," Manning said. "We want to keep everything uniformed so no one can complain."
For residents the one silver lining to be found from the flag controversy is this renewed appreciate for the town's patriotism. Wrentham resident Marleigh Brown, whose three brothers and father all served in the military, said she enjoyed the newly discovered and vocal patriotism in Wrentham. "It's a nice feeling to re-appreciate something I may have even taken for granted before," she said. "I will pause and reflect a little more when I see an American Flag now."