It was a rainy Tuesday, January 1, 1776 when George Washington sent word. “Raise this flag on Prospect Hill!” he commanded his troops. So on a 76 foot schooner mast amidst the colonists’ encampment the “Grand Union” flag flew. A 13 gun salute and cheers greeted this first truly American flag and its presence bolstered the morale of colonists seeking fair representation under British rule.
This national event continues to be celebrated here in Somerville every New Year’s Day with a parade and historic reenactment. In all weather on January 1 Somerville neighbors and patriots across the land gather above Union Square. With coffee and donuts to shake the chill we wave mini-flags and proudly wear tri-corner hats to sing “America the Beautiful.” We cheer as the call rings out for the flag to be hoisted. The boom of the gun salute echo from atop the monument as together we reflect on the birth of our nation and Union Square’s place in it.
There are two ways to join the event on Thursday, January 1. Wear colonial dress and be part of the parade with fife and drum players, local dignitaries and Color Guards. The Parade leaves City Hall at 11:30 am. Or greet the marchers and participate in the flag raising on Prospect Hill at noon.