It has been a little over ten years now that residents, visitors and other passersby on Winthrop Shore Drive have been able to look out to sea and witness the patriotism of local resident Mike Hammerman on full display, in the form a U.S. Flag flying proudly over the ‘Five Sisters’ breakwater on Winthrop Beach.
Hammerman, with the help of his father started erecting a flag pole with the US Flag waving proudly from the Five Sisters during the week following the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and failed attack on the U.S. House of Representatives.
“We (hung the first flag) right after the 9-11 attacks,” explained Hammerman this week. “We were very upset. I had served in the military, and my dad had served and we just wanted to do something to relieve the pressure of that week. So we put our heads together. . .I had the flag, so I went into my backyard and rigged up a pole. . .the tide was on its way out, as I remember it, we grabbed some rope, walked through knee deep water, climbed the rocks and put that first flag up.”
Hammerman says he never really gave a lot of thought to how long he’d maintain a flag on the rocks of the Five Sisters, it’s just something that kept going.
“That first winter after we put up the first flag, we had a big storm that wiped out the flag and the pole, and shortly after that, some people I knew, who knew I’d put the flag up, dropped of a metal pole at my house and told me to keep it going,” he recalled. “I thought, Ok, maybe I’ll keep a flag out there for the rest of the year, but then we just kept on replacing them. . .it‘s pride In guess.”
Since then, Hammerman and his family have hung 23 flags in all on the Five Sisters and in doing so have given local residents something to rally around, a way to express our love for our country and the pride we have as Americans and to honor those who died in the attacks and those who sacrificed themselves trying to save others.
“I was speechless, shocked when the Chamber approached me this year and said they wanted to give me the award,” said Hammerman. “I’m still really just speechless. I’ve always told people that I don’t really want recognition for doing it, even though everyone seems to know that it was me. It was just meant to be my kind of ‘underground’ thing.”
Despite Hammerman’s desire to maintain a low profile while hanging the flags, he says he is very grateful that the Chamber has chosen to bestow this honor on him.
The Patriot Award is one of 10 awards that will be presented to citizens and businesses on January 27 at the Hyatt Harborside Hotel at Logan Airport, as part of the Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Kick-Off and Awards Banquet. Additionally, the event recognizes two Winthrop High School students. The event features a cocktail reception at 6:30 and a full dinner at 8 p.m. and tickets are just $45 per person.