Peter Brewitt wanted to mark Maine and Kennebunk’s 200th birthday, so he created this flag display – including choosing, cutting and fashioning a flag pole from a pine tree on his Whitten Road property. Tammy Wells photo

KENNEBUNK – Peter Brewitt likes flags and he likes history. The stars and stripes fly high on a 30-foot-tall flagpole overlooking the garden of the home he shares with his wife, Peg.

So, for this year, Maine and Kennebunk’s bicentennial year, Brewitt thought it was time to create a display that took history into account, one that could be viewed by those driving by his Whitten Road home, and remind them of the 200th anniversary.

Flying from the top of the flagpole at present is Maine’s bicentennial flag, designed specifically to mark the 200th year since Maine separated from Massachusetts. On its cross arm are the Maine state flag, and a flag known as Maine’s merchant and marine flag.

The bicentennial flag is comprised of a field of blue representing the sky; lighter blue across the bottom representing water, and a pine tree moved off center, designed to make the viewer feel like they are inside the forest, looking out, according to the Maine Secretary of State’s office. The shape of the pine tree is based on the tree featured in the Maine Merchant and Marine flag.

The Merchant and Marine flag was described in a March 6, 1939 Maine legislative document:

“The flag to be known as the merchant and marine flag of the state shall be of white, at the top of which in blue letters shall be the motto Dirigo; beneath the motto shall be the representation of a pine tree in green color, the trunk of which shall be entwined with the representation of an anchor in blue color; beneath the tree and anchor shall be the name ‘Maine’ in blue color.”

The Maine state flag, adopted by the Legislature in 1909, features the state coat of arms on a blue field.

Brewitt, a forester who owned a couple of businesses and worked for others prior to retiring, began his project a year ago, when he went on the hunt for the perfect tree to use as a flag pole.

“You need a nice straight pine tree, though some use spruce,” he said. After some walks on the property – the couple owns 20 acres – Brewitt found the perfect, 22-foot-tall pine.

The next step was stripping the bark – Brewitt used a woodworking tool called an adze to remove the tree’s outer layer.

“You have to strip it in June; that is when the bark is loose because the tree is going to start to grow,” said Brewitt.

Then, the pine flag pole was left to dry across a couple of sawhorses.

Then came the base, the cross arm, and finally, the flags.

It was several hours of work spread over several months, but making the display was worth it.

The flags first flew on March 1, in advance of the day Maine became a state on March 15.

Brewitt, who was raised in New Hampshire, served  in the U.S. Navy Reserves, and was educated at the University of Maine at Orono. He later lived in New Hampshire and Vermont before moving to Maine in 1998, and is following in his father’s footsteps when it comes to flags.

“Dad was a flag guy,” he said of his father, who a Navy veteran of World War II. “And I’ve always been a flag person. I figured I’d get myself a little display.”

Those who take the drive past the property could see other flags as the year progresses. A smiling Brewitt said he isn’t about to divulge what they might be.

“Keep watching,” he said.

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