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Spotlighted-Spangled Banner now waves

Donation sheds light at roundabout site

June 15, 2011

The Grand Old Flag that flies at the center of the Washington Highlands neighborhood just became more majestic.

Thanks to a donation by resident Emily McNulty, spotlights now illuminate the American flag that has been posted at the roundabout at Washington Boulevard and Washington Circle for 50 years.

Residents of the Washington Highlands' 374 homes, as well as McNulty's family and friends, gathered Tuesday evening to celebrate Flag Day with a dedication ceremony. The lighting serves as a tribute to McNulty's late husband Truman, who died in 2004.

"He'd come home late and he'd say you're not supposed to fly at the flag at night unless it's lit," said daughter Mary Kay McNulty.

Truman was a World War II veteran, enlisting in 1942 for officer training school. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corps flying in China and Burma. He later served in the Army Reserve and became a military judge. Truman retired as a colonel, so patriotism was important to him, his wife said.

"He would have loved this," Emily said. "I can see the flag all lit up from my property because we're on a hill."

Her son, Mark McNulty, said with all the issues splitting the country he was impressed by the turnout for the dedication.

"Our country's going through turmoil right now, but people really are hungry for the Americana to stay alive," he said. "And I think this makes this neighborhood a little more special."

The family created a makeshift plaque for the ceremony, but a permanent bronze marker is on order. The Rev. Tom Caldwell from Marquette University said a prayer, granddaughter Brigette McNulty sang the national anthem, local Eagle Scout Evan Lynch led the Pledge of Allegiance and the newest resident of the neighborhood, Robert Newman, played taps on his trumpet.

The family donated funds for the equipment and installation to the Washington Highlands Historical Preservation Corp. The city connected the lighting to the street light circuit.

"When our lights go on, the flag lights go on," May Kay McNulty said.

The Historical Preservation Corp. was formed in 1998 to accept donations that contribute to the enhancement or preservation of the neighborhood, said organization President Dave Zachman.

The homeowner's association budget comes from fixed assessments on each property.

"It is completely gone after paying property taxes, snow removal for the sidewalks adjoining the parks and grass cutting," Zachman said. "The parks are all private property and are not maintained by the city. There is nothing left over for things like putting lights on flags."

The Historic Preservation Corp. works to complete the original neighborhood vision of designer/city planner Werner Hegemann and his Harvard-educated landscape architect partner, Elbert Peets.

"We have drawings of the original neighborhood entry designs that were never completed," Zachman said. "The stone entry markers at Lloyd Street and Marsha Washington Drive, Lloyd and Two Tree Lane, Hillcrest at 68th Street and Upper Parkway South at Milwaukee Ave are examples of completing the vision and have been installed in the last three years. Last year we were able to restore an old, collapsed stone seat wall in Applecroft Park."

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