Flag flown at U.S. Capitol honors Four Rivers Cultural Center for community service during pandemic

As a way to recognize the community service work done locally by the staff of Four Rivers Cultural Center during the COVID-19 pandemic in helping vulnerable members of the community, an American flag was flown over the U.S. Capitol. The flag, along with a certificate was presented to the Center, this request was made by U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon.

Some of the service work provided by the Cultural Center has included community service programs that have reached vulnerable populations including providing a site for COVID vaccinations.

In his most recent Malheur County virtual town hall on March 25, Merkley said that he likes to start off his town halls highlighting “a group that makes the county a better place,” and proceeded to shine a light on Four Rivers Cultural Center.

He said that the center has done “a great job” bringing attention to “cultural diversity” as well as “music, humanities, civic discourse,” and other aspects to the local community.

The physical flag was in the possession of Four Rivers Cultural Center Executive Director Matt Stringer during the town hall broadcast as Merkley mentioned some of the reasons he wished to bring attention to the center’s efforts including saying that providing a vaccination site “was tremendous.” He went on to say that the center is an organization that stepped in “they thought they could make things better.”

Reaction from the center

Stringer says receiving the flag “was pretty special,” and that these types of milestones are most important for the staff.

“It bolsters us a lot when we get recognized,” said Stringer, who added that to be honored in this way helps “increase our imprint” in the community.

As the pandemic continued to affect the community, the Cultural Center not only served up ready to eat meals to residents in need, staff gave out pandemic kits with useful everyday items.

In addition to necessities, the Center also offered up a program in which curated boxes filled with educational items for children and their families were given out, not to mention putting on two different “pop-up parades” for residents to participate in.

The significance

A flag of the United States can be flown over the U.S. Capitol to commemorate a special occasion, a person, an event or an organization. All of the flags that are flown for a specific purpose are accompanied by “a certificate from our office will accompany flags flown over the Capitol as a record of the event,” reads a statement under “Flag Requests” on Merkley’s website.

Further information about this program from the website of Architect of the Capitol (www.aoc.gov) states the Capitol Flag Program “began in 1937 when a Member of Congress requested a flag that had flown over the U.S. Capitol.”

The statement went on to describe how the program’s focus expanded to include honoring “the work of groups such as schools and civic organizations.”

The requests for flags, according to the website, outpaced the supply, “hence, the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) instituted a program of flying smaller flags that may be purchased through members’ offices.”