By John Toole
---- — WINDHAM — The Letizio family has given Windham its first town flag.
Selectman Al Letizio Jr. personally raised the flag in a place of honor, behind the chairman's seat at a selectmen's meeting Monday.
The flag features the town seal on a white background.
Amid thank-yous, selectmen unanimously accepted the flag. It is one of three Letizio and his wife, Patti, donated. The others are U.S. and New Hampshire flags.
"This is the first ever flag of the town of Windham, N.H.," Letizio told selectmen.
The town seal includes the year of Windham's incorporation, 1742, and symbols of the community, including a figure paddling a canoe and towers in a forest representing the landmark Searles Castle.
The condition of the American and state flags in the meeting room at the Community Development offices prompted the donation from the Letizios.
"They were kind of old and a little threadbare," Letizio told colleagues.
Longtime residents confirmed for him that the old flags had stood at town meetings for at least 25 years. Their condition and their placement in a corner of the room bothered him, especially when it came time to say the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of meetings.
"We take an oath to stand by the ideals that are represented by the flags," Letizio told the selectmen.
Yesterday, Letizio said he was already getting positive feedback from the community.
He said residents sent text messages during the meeting saying the flags looked great.
Letizio is pleased with the new flags and their place of honor at the board's meetings.
He said town officials don't always agree.
"But there are some things we can all agree on," he said. "Love for our country, dedication to the oath we take and our community values."
The town flag is especially meaningful to Letizio.
"I recognized there was not a flag for Windham," he said. "I have pride in this community and I think others do as well."
That Windham has a flag is unusual. Officials in Pelham and Salem could not recall having one, but Derry historian Rick Holmes said Derry has used one displaying its seal.
The old American and state flags will be cleaned and then retired, not destroyed.
The Letizio family will help with that, too.
Son Adam, a Navy pilot, will carry the New Hampshire flag on a flight high over Windham on a future mission, his father said.
Daughter Samantha, a Navy lieutenant like her brother, will have the U.S. flag flown over the Camp Pendleton hospital where she serves with a medical corps.
Once those flags have completed their journeys, they will be returned to the state, encased and given to the town's museum, Letizio said.
That is fitting, in Letizio's view.
"They sat here and presided over a lot of meetings," he told selectmen.