EDITORIAL: Fly it high, fly it proud above Sanibel
February 18, 2011
Like the American flag itself, flagpoles have undergone several changes in style and structure through the years. From the wooden varieties of the 19th century to the state-of-the-art mechanized poles of today, these devices still retain the same primary purpose: allowing people throughout the United States to show their patriotism.
Earlier this month, members of the Sanibel City Council approved the construction of a 149-foot telecommunications tower that, in addition to improving the quality and coverage of cell phone calls on the island, will resemble a flagpole.
However, still undecided by local leaders is to what extent the monolithic structure will serve as an active flagpole.
On Feb. 1, the four council members present at the meeting (with Mick Denham excused) debated whether the city should fly the American flag on the Verizon Wireless cell tower — to be located at the Donax Street Wastewater Reclamation Facility — around the clock, on a daily basis or only during holidays and special occasions.
Some members of council — like Kevin Ruane, Jim Jennings and the outgoing Peter Pappas — seemed to favor having the stars and stripes flown during daylight hours only, while Marty Harrity thought flying the flag on the pole should be done from time to time. Also discussed was whether appropriate lighting at the top of the structure could provide sufficient illumination of the flag at night, given the city's restrictive exterior lighting regulations, and whether the flagpole should be used to fly a flag at all.
Another sticking point brought up by council was, if the city decided to fly the flag on a daily basis, who would be responsible for raising it every morning, and lowering it every night. They also discussed if this act was a one-person operation or would require multiple people to perform the task, and what impact financially the additional duty would have on city staff.
In the end, the council decided to postpone the debate until additional information could be gathered by city staff, and to allow Denham to share his thoughts on the subject. They are expected to address the issue at their next meeting, on March 1.
The choice, in our opinion, is rather simple. The city should fly the flag every day.
We can think of no better way to display our collective pride and patriotism than to raise the red, white and blue high above our island. And if the city concludes that manpower may be an issue, we are confident that there are enough groups and organizations on Sanibel — including the American Legion, Lions, Kiwanis, Rotary, Zonta, etc. — filled with like-minded veterans and civilians that would consider the duty of raising and lowering our nation's colors an honor and a privilege to perform.
The American flag has served as a symbol of hope and inspiration for more than 200 years. It has been used to show patriotism, pride, spirit, rebellion and everything in between. Sanibel now has an opportunity to make a dramatic statement with the installation of a flagpole that will be higher than any structure on the island, flying the world's most recognized and revered symbol of freedom.
We urge our readers to speak out at the next City Council meeting, on March 1 at MacKenzie Hall, and support the flying of the American flag at the Donax Street Wastewater Reclamation Facility on an everyday basis. And, if volunteers to assist in the raising and lowering of the flag are requested, we hope that there will be a line all the way to Dunlop Road for the opportunity to add your names to that list.
— Reporter editorial