When the first flag was ever raised atop the pole at Manteca’s Fire Station No. 4 on Sept. 11, it represented something unique.
Congressman Jeff Denham – who was part of the contingent of elected officials that turned over shovelfuls of dirt when the station was just a set of blueprints and plans – had delivered on his promise to make the opening ceremony something special by securing a flag that had flown high above the United States Capital Dome.
He had an idea for something a little bit more extravagant, but at the time didn’t know whether it was even possible to pull off. Can a Congressman even get a flag that at one time flew over the Unites States Pentagon let alone one that flew over the Department of Defense headquarters during the Sept. 11 ceremonies – a sacred day on what has become hallowed ground?
The Congressman let the Manteca Fire Department know the answer on Tuesday. He hand-delivered the flag and an accompanying document that proved while local dignitaries were dedicating the fire station back in September, that the flag was flying over the Pentagon. It is where 189 people lost their lives after an airliner was used as a missile that fateful morning 12 years ago.
“It’s pretty special to have this flag knowing what it means and where it came from,” said Manteca Fire Chief Kirk Waters – still somewhat stunned as to the events that were unfolding before him. “This is something that’s extremely precious, and we’re going to put it on display so that people that come in will be able to see it and the story that goes with it.”
Denham, an Air Force veteran, currently sits on the House committees for transportation and infrastructure, veteran’s affairs and agriculture.
Not long after getting elected was he appoint the head of a subcommittee of the House committee on transportation and infrastructure that gave him oversight on federal buildings, economic development and the budget of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
He held at least one of those subcommittee hearings in Stockton after his district was realigned and earned California’s new 10th district seat.
According to Denham, doing something like procuring a flag to honor the construction and opening of a new firehouse is a small token compared to the dangerous work that the men themselves do every day to protect the residents in the towns they serve.
“What they do is extraordinarily important and it keeps us safe,” he said. “They’ve opened up a facility here that is state-of-the-art and when they’re lives on the line every day you want them to have all of the tools that they need at their disposal.
“They have a special job, and sometimes that job includes sacrifice and this flag is a token of gratitude for the work that they put in.”