The town and its Ruritan club honored veterans with an inaugural flag-raising ceremony Sunday, Nov. 10.

Almost six years ago, the small town of Hartly did not have a government, several houses were dilapidated and the town seemed to be physically falling apart.

But, on Sunday, Nov. 10, dozens of community members celebrated pride for their town and country as they gathered around Hartly’s new flagpole for an inaugural flag-raising ceremony.

“That means a lot to everybody. It’s in the center of this town, and we’re so proud now,” said June Myers, a Hartly resident who donated the American flag.

The Hartly Ruritan Club installed the flagpole a few weeks ago near the fire company and organized the ceremony to honor veterans. The POW/MIA flag was donated by Kenneth Bodine, a life member of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 850 in Dover.

Chuck Archer of the Hartly Ruritan Club explained what the flag-raising and new flagpole meant to him.

“I had a brother-in-law who died in Iraq on Dec. 2, 2006. I was always a military supporter, but since then I’ve always tried to be involved,” Archer said. “[The flag has] always been a symbol to me: it’s patriotism, it’s about community service, it’s about America.”

State Rep. Jeff Spiegelman and state Sen. Dave Lawson, a Vietnam veteran, spoke about the importance of remembering the sacrifices of veterans and their families.

“I saw the anguish that the families suffered simply because we were over there. I want to thank the families for that,” Lawson said.

June Myers and Korean War veteran Kline Jarman stood in the front row as the two flags were raised at the intersection of Arthursville Road and Main Street. The ceremony was accompanied by a moment of silence for veterans and sounds of bagpipes playing “God Bless America.”

For the town of 74 residents and its surrounding community, the ceremony was an opportunity to both recognize veterans and Hartly’s continuing comeback story.

“I’m so extremely proud of what has been done here. In the last five years, this town has turned around,” said Lawson, who has helped lead efforts to restore the town government. “It’s nice to see small Delaware sprout and come back,” he said.

As the town government returned, the commissioners and Mayor Mark Maguire started enforcing ordinances and cleaning up or tearing down houses, Maguire said.

“It’s been an ongoing [process of] cleaning the town up and getting it back where it needs to be,” Maguire said.

"There’s a lot of love in this little town," he said.

Correction: This story has been corrected to state that the POW/MIA flag was donated by Kenneth Bodine, a life member of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 850 in Dover.