Photographs by John Murray

Zeqir Berisha, better known in Waterbury as “Ziggy the Flagman”, was euphoric during a celebration inside Waterbury City Hall Friday morning to honor the 4th anniversary of independence for Kosovo, and to honor Mhill Velaj being honorary mayor for the day. Berisha was touted by Joe Geary, operations director for the city of Waterbury, as an international icon for patriotism. “Ziggy is known all over the world,” Geary said, “I would like to thank him for standing on the street corners in Waterbury celebrating his love of America.” 

The musical group Bashkimi Kombetar travelled from New York City to perform two hauntingly beautiful ballads on simple two-string wooden instruments.

Mhill Velaj, right, was the honorary mayor for the day. Velaj was born in Kosovo in 1957 and has written several poetry books about the Albanian struggle for freedom inside Kosovo. Velaj told the gathering inside Veteran’s Memorial Hall that February 17th, 2008 is the day Kosovo gained it’s independence from Serbians, and the date is celebrated by all people of Albanian origin or ethnicity around the world.

Members of the local Albanian community gathered at Waterbury City Hall to celebrate Independence Day for Kosovo, and to catch up with old friends.

A member of Bashkimi Kombetar sang and played a one-string instrument.

Director of operations for the city of Waterbury, Joe Geary, left, pronounced Mhill Velaj the honoary mayor for the day as Velaj’s wife, Binake, and daughter looked on. Mhill lives in Stamford, but is a property owner and landlord in Waterbury.