The spirit of America was on full display in midtown Manhattan this week when an Irish immigrant bar owner was presented with a new U.S. flag to hang outside his bar following an arson attack that took place over July 4th week.
Local born New Yorkers joined with immigrants and adopted citizens to make right a wrong that happened at a well-liked neighborhood pub, the Playwright.
Friends, customers and some good men from law enforcement gathered to present John Doherty, a newly minted U.S. citizen, with a significant new American flag.
Joseph L. Kruper, a Port Authority officer arranged for the flag. Its significance is that this flag flew over the Freedom Tower on July 11th and this was explained on an official certificate and companion photograph that was presented to Doherty.
It read, "Port Authority Police Department - Marine Corps Association This ensign was proudly flown over the World Trade Center site on July 11, 2013 Presented to John Doherty, in memory of those who fell on September 11, 2001"
Agostino von Hassel, a military historian and lifetime member of the United States Marine Corps Combat Correspondents, himself an immigrant, presented Doherty with a plaque. It reads, "Thank you for supporting these United States of America."
In his remarks, he said, "When people put on a uniform, it is to protect the flag and what it stands for. As citizens, we have an obligation to uphold this responsibility."
Doherty was overwhelmed with gratitude and with the help of Lt. Richard Mack, formerly of Mid-Town South Precinct, and some of the current NYPD from that precinct, the new flag was raised and saluted by those in attendance. It now flies with pride at the Playwright.
"I will remember this day forever!" said John Doherty.
A night Doherty would rather forget was in early July; just weeks before being sworn in as a U.S. citizen, Doherty hung a beautiful American flag in front of his establishment as a gesture of pride. The bar owner, who came to the United States at age 21 from Ireland, marked his 21st year as a U.S. resident and his first year as a U.S. citizen in August in the presence of his American born wife and one-year-old twins.
On July 5, 2013, in the wee hours of the morning, it was discovered the flag had been burned.
What was first thought to be an electrical fire was found to be a deliberate act. A man was captured on a security camera making multiple attempts to burn the flag with what appeared to be a cigarette lighter. After nearly 15 minutes, he finally succeed in lighting the flag on fire. Several days later, an arrest was made.
Patrons, friends and the neighborhood community were devastated to hear about the burning of the flag. They spontaneously decided to make a statement of their own and the commemoration was organized.