HAMTRAMCK, Mich. – Sterling Services and the Hamtramck Human Relations Commission (HRC) decided to turn vacant flagpoles on the main street in the city of Hamtramck into a celebration of their identity. Hamtramck is home to the most diverse nationalities in the country and the HRC through Russ Gordon sought financing to display their national flags.
Hamtramck has a population that is 41-percent foreign-born, down from a city high of 92-percent in 1920. City council approved the project, the Joseph Campau International Flagpole Project that is going to display 18 flags representing the world diversity of the city.Eight years ago the HRC at the direction of Gordon proposed placing national flags of the constituents of Hamtramck on the 18 vacant flag poles that line Jos. Campau, north of Caniff. Two of the flags are to be American flags, eight of the most dominant nationalities in the community would have their flags permanetly on display with the remaining rotating on a year-to-year basis.
The project helped line Jos. Campau with the national flags for Bosnia, Yemen, Bangladesh, Poland, Romania, Russia, Armenia, Mexico, Ukraine, Albania, Croatia, Ethiopia, Turkey, Lebanon, and Macedonia. Joseph Campau is the main street that leads you through downtown Hamtramck.
“The HRC wanted a way to express the diversity of the community, and the proud display of each nation’s flag represented this diversity perfectly. By reaching out, diplomatically and democratically, to the leaders of the community, we were able to raise the funds within a relatively short period of time,” Ismira Lokmic, HRC member, told the Hamtramck Review.
The cost of this project comes directly from the companies and people that consider Hamtramck their home. Their donations help raise the $5,000 it needs to keep the flags up year round. Next year, Gordon said, would be a bit more since they will need to order new flags to replace the worn one.
“I had a vision of this young family flying into the country, landing at the Detroit airport, hoping in a car and driving with family back to Hamtramck,” Russ Gordon, Owner of Franklin Electric Corporation. “In the car was this little kid, scared about the new life in America, misses his home and as they drive into Hamtramck, he looks out the car window and sees his flag on a pole and says, “I’m Home.” That vision is what drove me to do this project and it has kept this thing going for me.”
The project welcoed representatives from Welcoming Michigan group and Global Detroit when they debut the flags on Joseph Campau. Some of the other sponsors to the project included Franklin Electric Corporation, the Bosnian American Community, the Bosnian America Islamic Center, Maine Street Restaurant, as well as a generous anonymous donor. Each donor has a plaque on the flagpole to recognize their generosity.
Sterling Services has been working with HRC on a number of projects for the past decade. “We have worked with HRC over the years on various projects,” Jason Eddleston, VP of Operations at Sterling Services said. “This project shows the great nationalities of the community and it is a great way to show appreciation to those that have made Hamtramck their home away from home.”