By John Concannon
In remembrance of Flag Day last week, I wanted to share some of our family’s military history and traditions with you.
In 1939, as the Great Depression was ending and World War II was looming, my grandfather, Joseph Concannon Sr., had a regulation 100-foot flagpole built in front of our family’s home at the entrance to the winery. Livermore was a small town at that time, and he made the dedication of the flag pole very special: a detachment of service men were present for the dedication, as well as a band, and the entire town was invited to the reception following the ceremony.
Grandfather raised and lowered the flag every day, continuing to do so until shortly before he died in 1965. Afterwards, my dad and I continued the daily tradition.
The flag held special meaning for my grandfather throughout his long life. Joseph Concannon Sr. was born in 1884, one of the 10 children of winery founders (and my great-grandparents) James and Ellen Concannon. While his four brothers attended and graduated from college, my grandfather chose military service instead. In 1907, he enlisted in the U.S. Cavalry as a Private, and by 1913 he had moved up to the rank of Captain (which is why he was fondly known as “Captain Joe”). Captain Joe’s Lieutenant was George Patton (eventually General Patton) and his Commanding Officer was General John Pershing (the only Commander to hold the title Commander of the Armies).
When my great-grandfather passed away, my grandfather returned home after his years in the service to operate Concannon Vineyard. He stayed connected to the military, however. During the 1930s and 1940s, he was the official civilian armed services recruiter in our valley, known to new recruits as Captain Joe. He was a gregarious fellow and could entertain the enlisted man as easily as top admirals and generals.
Today, the American flag continues to wave proudly in front of the winery atop the 72-year-old flagpole my grandfather erected so many years ago to honor his country. To everyone at Concannon Vineyard, the flag is a symbol of our country’s pride and deep appreciation and gratitude to the many servicemen and women who have given – and continue to give – their lives each day to protect our freedom and this country of great opportunity.