The Flag Mall
The year was 1993. Major landscaping was underway on the UMES campus. The beautification project included brick inlays along the historic Academic Oval and in front of John T. Williams Hall. Not far away, the Richard A. Henson Center was under construction.
In the minds of university leaders, something was missing.
Let me back track a little, well, to 1942 …. Herman Franklin, who served UMES as Vice President for Student Affairs from 1977 to 2000, grew up in a two-story farmhouse in May’s Lick, Ky. on which his parents displayed the largest American flag around.
“It would fly from the upper porches and drape the house all the way down,” Franklin said. “Over the years, my parents always flew the flag during Veterans’ day and other patriotic celebrations.”
“Hence, my love of flags!,” Franklin said. “Dr. (William) Hytche, Dr. (Ronnie) Holden and I felt very strongly that we should provide international students with a sense of pride and the ability to identify with their country flags right here on campus.”
It so happened that at the time the project was being discussed, philanthropist Richard A. Henson was lobbying the governor (William Donald Schaefer) for money from the state to pay for upgrades to the campus.
The International Flag Mall was born in 1994. While there was not enough to pay for poles to display every flag of all international students’ home countries simultaneously, Franklin felt strongly they should see their national colors during the school year.
Franklin devised a rotation system and wrote a strict protocol. According to “Polishing the Diamond,” Hytche’s 2002 book on UMES’ history, “flags are flown for a period of six weeks.”
After six weeks, another rotation of flags takes their place “so (a) country’s flag for each foreign student is flown at least two six-week periods in a year.”
Franklin didn’t stop there. In 2002, he and his wife, LaRaeu, established the “Dr. and Mrs. Herman Franklin Award” endowment, which provides funds to maintain flags for the mall and support book scholarships for all students. A plaque* at the foot of the American flag in front of Williams hall pays tribute to Franklin’s service and generosity.
Thank you Dr. and Mrs. Franklin for bringing international colors to UMES!
As told to VERONIQUE DIRIKER, Ph.D., by HERMAN FRANKLIN, Ph.D.
* The flag mall was included in dedication ceremonies that were planned Sept. 11, 2001 for UMES Boulevard, but never took place. (Maryland) Gov. Parris Glendening, who was scheduled to be in Princess Anne that day, "sent me a letter of regret that he was unable to attend the dedication on 9/11/01 because of the national events of that day," Herman Franklin said. The flag mall dedication was rescheduled and held Feb. 15, 2002, according to Franklin.