On the blistering asphalt parking lot of the Glen Cove Diner, veterans of Glenwood Landing American Legion Post 336 and its color guard gathered to commemorate another step forward in their patriotic endeavor to have local businesses raise a national symbol of hope and freedom — the American flag.
Due to coronavirus restrictions, the Nassau County Legislature and Post 336’s former chaplain, Ralph Casey, had had to put the legion’s flag-flying cause on hold. Last year they had worked to convince businesses in Sea Cliff and Glenwood Landing to fly the flag. On June 24, the legion began its efforts once again, expanding its outreach to local businesses in Glen Cove. They held an outdoor ceremony at the Glen Cove Diner that day so other businesses in the area could see and follow the diner’s example of flying the flag.
“I am hoping that store owners will call, and say come, I will put a flag here,” Casey said. “I am personally going to go into the stores that do not have the flag flying and get the owners to do it.”
Glen Cove Diner, owned by Byron Voutsinas, is the first business in Glen Cove to take part in the legion’s ceremony. The diner has always had the American flag present in its establishment. Upon stepping inside, one can see tiny versions of the flag around the establishment signifying the businesses’ patriotism. Even the windows, covered in beautiful artistic designs for the summer, show the American flag in honor of the upcoming national holiday July Fourth.
“I believe we should always be proud of our flag,” said Voutsinas. “The flag represents many things such as the people who fought for us to have this great country, the great country that we are in, no matter how bad anything is.”
In appreciation for Voutsinas’s patriotic actions and respect for the flag, Casey gave Voutsinas a thank-you label to place in his business.
“It shows that whoever is flying it is working with the government. He or she is in favor of these principles that we attach to the flag,” said Carl Ring, a member of Glenwood’s legion color guard. “It probably means a little more because we served in service and that is what we were fighting for. That is how we dedicated our lives, and some gave their lives.”
The first flag-flying ceremony was in Sea Cliff last year when Casey was weeding the lawn out front of the Sea Cliff Bagel Café. As a form of payment for Casey’s generous deed, the café’s owner Matthew Blass decided to fly the flag in front of his business as per Casey’s request. Similar to the Sea Cliff ceremony, the Prayer of the Flag, which is read aloud during the legion’s annual burning of threadbare flags on Flag Day, was said in reverence outside of the Glen Cove Diner.
The American flag with its red, white, and blue stripes and color is more than just any ordinary flag. It has ceremonies, a prayer and specific instructions to the flying or folding of the flag in order to uphold its integrity.
“It’s a source of pride,” Voutsinas said. “I certainly hope that other businesses will follow my lead.”