Six years ago, on Jan. 31, 2016, an arson fire destroyed the Columbus Karma Thegsum Chöling Tibetan Buddhist Meditation Center at the southwest corner of West Rich and South Grubb streets in Columbus’ Franklinton neighborhood.
While fire was leaping from the roof of the burning building, KTC’s symbolic prayer flag, flying from a pole attached to the top of the building, was in danger of being destroyed by the fire.
However, the flag, known as the Namkhyen Gyaldar or “Dream Flag,” appeared to wrap itself around its pole during the fighting of the fire, and when the fire was out, the flag unfurled itself and fluttered gently in the breeze.
Amazed that the wind-battered flag was untouched by fire, KTC leaders eagerly agreed when crews from the Columbus Division of Fire offered to retrieve it for them. Firefighter Mark Foster, a veteran with decades of service, climbed up Ladder 1 and unhooked the flag, presenting it to KTC Director Kim Miracle. The flag then became a symbol of the small congregation’s resolve to rebuild after the fire, and today’s ceremony is a testament to what one community can do to care for their own.
On Saturday March 5, Firefighter Foster repeated his flag task in reverse, climbing up the ladder to attach a new Dream Flag to the new pole on top of the KTC.
It’s an honor to do this,” Mr. Foster said. Usually, firefighters and emergency medical service personnel see people “on the worst day of their life,” so it is always good when they get to participate in a joyful occasion.
About 50 people from all over attended the March 5 flag-raising ceremony in the KTC Parking Lot. The flag-raising is of several opening events planned for the coming week.
Channel 4 WCMH news covered both the fire and the flag-raising. Here is their coverage from this past weekend: https://youtu.be/eFNCf7wrLkw
Extra thanks to the Columbus Division of Fire, KTC Ron Hess (who donated a new hand-sewn flag from the Flag Lady’s store) and representatives from the Interfaith Association of Central Ohio, who attended the flag-raising on behalf of their organization.
May all beings benefit!