Only media negativity
The recent onslaught of media negativity against the raising of a large American flag on a 150-foot-high flagpole in Avon on July 3 has done nothing to deter the main speakers at the upcoming event: Former astronaut Scott Carpenter, local VFW Post Commander Buddy Sums, County Commissioner Tom Stone and Avon Mayor Buz Reynolds.In fact, the attacks have done just the opposite.Carpenter, who will serve as the grand marshal of the Vail Fourth of July parade, is a 15-year resident of Vail and will be the keynote speaker at the public flag dedication festivities Saturday between The Home Depot and Wal-Mart buildings. He was selected as one of the original seven Mercury astronauts and flew the second historic American manned orbital flight on May 24, 1962. Carpenter retired from the Navy as a commander after 28 years of service.Said Carpenter: “I endorse the idea of a prominent flagpole and a big flag because it’s a symbol to all of us of patriotism, freedom and mother country, and, after all I’m part of it. If we can make the flag prominent to our citizens, I don’t see anything wrong with that, and the controversy pales when confronted by the basic issue which is patriotism, our country and our national emblem.”Lt. Col. Buddy Sims, an Air Force veteran of Vietnam, was called back to two years of duty for Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operating Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. As chief of time sensitive targeting for the Air Force in Saudi Arabia and later in Qatar, he helped direct the air campaign into Afghanistan and Iraq. He recently returned to his home in the valley.Sims will speak at the dedication and be a part of the VFW flag detail, representing the 200 members and supporters of the Minturn VFW Post 10721. About the flap over the flag from some quarters, Sims said, “Nothing surprises you in the Vail Valley. I would assume it’s a small number of people who think Lindholm is using this as a commercial draw. I firmly believe he is using it as a patriotic gesture to the community, to put up an American flag we can all see every day.”Sims continued: “I personally think the bigger the pole and the bigger the flag, the better it is for America. We need to see more of the flag. My sympathy is with the troops who are over there fighting the war, and it’s very important for the people to support what we’re doing over there.”As to his personal motives, Lindholm said that even though he is Swedish and not an American citizen, he has two sons who are, and he has always greatly respected this country.”Through all of her history, America has meant hope and freedom to miserable, oppressed people,” he said. “Some may think it presumptuous to talk so fervently about America as a non-citizen. But I admire this country and what she is doing and what she represents. The American flag is a mighty symbol of a great land, and I think it deserves to be proudly displayed.”The media’s constant insistence that the flagpole is purple has puzzled Lindholm. “It’s dark navy blue. We had it matched to the color of the flag itself,” he explained.Lindholm said that when he was taking pictures last week of the flagpole going up, he was approached by a number of citizens who voiced their approval. “One guy said something like, ‘This is great, it’s just what we need with the war,'” he recalled. Lindholm quoted another passerby who observed, “It’s about time we got a real flagpole in this valley.” Still another said that he was excited to be there to take a picture when the flag actually went up.He’ll get his chance at noon Saturday, when the flag-raising ceremonies begin. An honor guard from the VFW Post will present the flag, and the St. Clare of Assisi Children’s Choir will perform. The honored guests will speak. Magnus Lindholm will say a few words, and even serve up free hot dogs, chips and drinks at the barbecue afterward. There’ll be big giveaways from local businesses. NASCAR driver Tony Stewart’s Home Depot car will be on hand for kids and grown-ups to ogle.At the same event, the delightful Village Park between Home Depot and Wal-Mart will be dedicated. The park features a waterfall, a sparkling stream spanned by a bridge, and lots of places to relax and eat lunch amid the aspen trees.”Everyone has a right to their opinion, but no matter what people think of the flag’s size, they’re welcome to come over and eat a bunch of hot dogs,” said Lindholm. “Everybody has my personal invitation to come and celebrate. I hope they enjoy the beautiful park and the whole day.”Joy Overbeck of Edwards is a free-lance writer.