Talcott Free Library board votes to recite Pledge of Allegiance at meetings, receives new flag
The Talcott Free Library now has a new flag courtesy of veteran Dave Johnson and the Rockton American Legion Post #332.
At the November board meeting, Talcott Library board president Gary Kovanda gratefully accepted the flag from Johnson.
The board also voted to add the Pledge of Allegiance to future meeting agendas.
Over the years the Pledge of Allegiance has never been recited at library board meetings. According to former library director Bonnie Estrada and current board president Gary Kovanda, who has been on the board for 14 years, there was never any particular reason that the pledge was not incorporated into the meetings.
Though meetings have always been open to the public, usually only board members attended. But interest in meetings grew and has remained steady after a Drag Queen Q&A at the library became a controversial and sensitive subject in June 2023.
Talcott board member Bob Geddeis read a statement supporting having a flag in the Keefer Room, where the board meets, and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
“At our last board meeting, a constituent of the Talcott Free Library district raised the question as to why we, the Board of Trustees of the library, do not open our meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance,” Geddeis said.
“I observed, following her comments, that all area public boards of directors/trustees do open their board meetings with the Pledge of Allegiance.
“These include the Winnebago County Board, Rockton Township Board, Village of Rockton Board, Rockton Fire Department Board, Rockton School District Board, Kinnikinnick School District Board and Hononegah High School District Board.”
Additionally, the American Legion and Ladies Auxiliary of Post #332 faithfully recites the Pledge of Allegiance prior to every meeting and at special events.
Hononegah Woman's Club follows suit in reciting the pledge.
“In addition it is notable that all of our young students, our future leaders, recite the pledge at the commencement of their academic day,” Geddeis added.
“As to why I endorse and am in support of this board opening our meetings by standing, facing the American flag and taking 15 seconds to recite the pledge, I offer the following: the Pledge of Allegiance is significant to many because it fosters a sense of community, of national unity, loyalty, and patriotism. It serves as a symbol of commitment to the ideals and values of a nation, our nation.
“Reciting the pledge can instill a sense of belonging, pride, and civic responsibility in individuals especially when done in communal settings like schools or public events. For some, it's a way to honor those who are serving, have served or sacrificed for our country, our nation.”
Geddeis added, “However, it's also important to note that participation in reciting the pledge can be a personal choice, as freedom of expression is a fundamental aspect of the very Constitution of our nation to which we recite the pledge.”
“If a motion is necessary to move this topic forward, I make it here,” said Geddeis.
During the discussion phase, board member Dan Garlow inquired if the library should also have the state flag in the Keefer Room.
Talcott Library director Megan Gove said, “We have both flags in the reference room. These have always been in the building.”
Geddeis offered to place both flags on a flagpole and to purchase everything needed for assembly.
Gove said, “It might be nice to replace our outdoor flag, as it is showing age and wear.”
During the public comment section that had opened the meeting, veteran Dave Johnson from the Rockton American Legion Post #332 presented the flag to the library, saying, “We supply flags to the village, and the library is included in that.”
He noted that the Legion Rifle Squad does military funerals and the Legion always salutes the flag and says the Pledge of Allegiance at gatherings.
“I served as a Marine from 1971-1974. I love my country and that flag means so much to us veterans. We have lost a lot of brothers and sisters,” Johnson said.
“I have also been the historian for our post and am currently the State Chairman for Children and Youth.”
“As a veteran I support putting a flag in here. That flag means the world to me and it has our national colors on it. We have freedom because of us, the veterans who served. I am a proud Legion member.”
Johnson added, “I have taught ancestry and have read to our grandchildren here. This place is amazing.” He added that his grandsons know how to fold a flag.
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