The Electric Flag
The electric thrill of American flag has yet to
from TALKING UP - the column by Edgar Williams appearing in
the Philadelphia Inquirer - date unknown
The question was posed here recently as to what had become of the American "flag" made up of colored electric colored
bulbs that used to be turned on for the rendition of "Stars and Stripes Forever" by John Philip Sousa and his band
at the old Willow Grove Park.
The answer: The flag, largely reconstructed and refurbished, is in the dining room of the officers’ club at
the Willow Grove naval Air Station. Its 214 bulbs shine brightly, and the flag is illuminated during the Pledge of
Allegiance that opens the meetings of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Council of the Navy League
If you ever attended a Sousa concert in the Music Pavilion at Willow Grove Park, you probably remember
that the flag, its basic structure wood, was mounted above the bandstand. When the band struck up "Stars and
Stripes Forever" and the lights came on, it was a thrilling moment.
Decades later, when the Willow Grove Park Bowling Lanes were built, the flag was moved there. In 1984
when the establishment was demolished, the flag was given to the Navy League, to be displayed as the organization
The Navy League’s reconstruction/refurbishing of the one-ton structure was done in Hartsville by
members Arthur Leibscher of Hartsville and Joyce Arnold of Warminster. Arrangements for the project had been
made by Robert H. John of Hatboro, then president of the Navy League.
"We began work in November 1984 and we completed it in April 1985," Arnold was saying the other day.
"It took five Marines to deliver it by truck".
Would John Philip Sousa have approved of the reconstructed flag?
"I would like to think," Arnold said," that he would have loved it."