Cambodian Flag Raised in City Hall Square

Posted on April 16, 2010

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Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy looks up and monks look on as Cambodian flag is hoisted.

“This is the first time in 20 years that the mayor’s office has opened up to the Khmer community in such a way,” said Kiririath Saing, Director of the Department of Interpretive Services and Community Outreach at Union Hospital. Saing gave a brief speech in front of approximately 75 people crowded onto the traffic island across from City Hall. “This special occasion tells us that we’re not just people living within the city, but that we belong.” The speech was followed by Buddhist monks chanting a blessing for the Cambodian New Year.

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy called it the largest crowd by far to attend any of the city’s end-of-month flag raising ceremonies begun just months ago when she took office. The flag raising coincides with the Cambodian New Year celebration scheduled to take place at the Khmer Buddhist temple on 110 Chestnut St. tomorrow but postponed due to inclement weather to next Saturday, April 24. The silky blue, red and white flag will remain aloft over the weekend, after which the city flag will fly as usual.

Jim Lavelle of the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma estimates the Cambodian population of Lynn to be between 5 and 6000. “We’ll know for sure when the census is complete,” said Lavelle. Lynn has the third largest Cambodian community in the nation. Long Beach, California, and Lowell, MA, are the first two.

“Chances are if you are Cambodian and over 30 years of age, you have experienced torture,” said Lavelle. He is co-founder of HPRT and a licensed clinical social worker who started a treatment center for Indochinese refugees at the Lynn Community Health Center.

As political refugees, the Khmer (pronounced K’-may) people are legally invited to enter the United States and may officially become citizens after 5 years.

From the city website:

Any individual and/or affiliate of an organization or culture that would like to have their particular organization’s flag raised for a particular holiday or event is welcomed to submit a request to the Mayor’s Office for approval and/or scheduling.

Anyone interested in receiving additional information, may contact the Mayor’s Office at (781) 599-1444.

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