Thursday, February 2, 2012

Today we are talking to Eddie, a generational Marine, to go over his Flag Story as we help him raise a 20 ft flagpole on his front lawn. We were honored to be there and share the experience with him.

Like many people, when we asked Eddie Westfall if we could share his Flag Story, he replied, "I have a flag story?" We decided to help our friend put in a 20 ft flagpole. "Let's come over, help you put that flagpole in and then we can talk about your flag story." He couldn't complain. So why did this lifelong flag flyer need a flagpole?

It all started about a year ago. Eddie lives in the Chicago area. The weather in Chicago can be very sporadic, scary at times. One day will be calm, and the next can be disastrous for those spring flowers you just planted. People who live in Chicago know these winds come up that are just down right harsh. Eddie had a nicer sectional flagpole a year ago, but one of those windy days caught it just right. Eddie was flying a US flag with a Marine Corps underneath. It was a nice display designed for the home, sitting right outside his front door. Every day coming home from work he would drive up and more or less salute the flag. Every morning started with much the same thing. That all changed with a large Chicago wind that actually brought the flagpole down, flags and all.

The storm came through leaving trees downed and gardens destroyed and Eddie's flagpole in disrepair. Every few years we get storms like these. Albeit they are not the tornadoes or the hurricanes you hear about in the news, but in that storm Eddie's flagpole broke in half and crashed onto the driveway. Unfortunately, we hear about this--a Church, a friend, a school--sadly one old large steel flagpole fell in Michigan a few years back and claimed a kindergarten student. A real tragedy in the community. Now as the FlagRunners, we check the strength of the base of these old steel poles wherever we can. We are looking just below the surface of the base of the flagpole, right at the ground height. This is the stress point where erosion of steel occurs. Drainage is key to life when it comes to steel. And when a flagpole falls, the first thing we ask is, "Did anyone get hurt?" Some flagpoles have been standing for over 20 or 30 years. Like all things, they have a lifetime.

We spoke with Eddie again and this time he said bring me the 20 ft one piece 3.5" butt cone tapered flagpole that is going to handle not just my flags but the winds we have here as well. So when Eddie answered our request for his story and exclaimed, "I have a flag story?" we thought, if anyone has a flag story to tell, it's Eddie. On a beautiful autumn Sunday, we packed our tools and hit the road for Marine-Corps-Eddie's place. Eddie had everything set, I mean ready to go; the pole, the foundation sleeve, the tubing, sand, a level, and a pile of concrete bags. We got right to work.

Eddie was upgrading from a Homesteader Flagpole to the ECSS20 Special Budget 20' Satin Aluminum Flagpole With Standard Accessories. The shaft is 20 feet in length with a 3.5" butt diameter. The flagpole is cone tapered to 1.875" at the top. A Homesteader Flagpole and the ECSS20 may have the same height, but they are worlds apart. The most important distinction is the wall thickness. The Homesteader Flagpole is 2 inch base diameter with 0.049" wall thickness. But the ECSS20 has a wall thickness of .125 inches, about two and a half times thicker. That will make a big difference with the flags on the pole, in the wind, and most certainly over time.

The ECSS20 has a completely different set of hardware. There is a truck at the top with a pulley where rope (or halyard) is fed through. The flag is attached to snap hooks which are fixed to the rope. This is the standard and most common flagpole. The rope is secured to a cleat at the bottom. The ornament is a gold spun aluminum which matches the butt diameter 3 inches. The truck is cap-style stationary with a pulley that is parallel to the pole rather than the common perpendicular (when raising this flagpole keep the direction of the pulley in mind).

From the first shovel hitting the ground, we engaged in a deep discussion about taking action, believing in something. We hypothesized and we theorized, all the while enjoying each others' company sharing our flag stories. And as the day drew in, Eddie recounted an honest flag story for us. We are humbled to know and love our new friend and FlagRunner, Eddie Westfall. Welcome Eddie, to the FlagRunner life. You are just like us, "we just like people that fly flags."