Editorial: Flagged for removal


About a month before Bristol celebrated its favorite holiday, an unknown resident planted a flag in the ground at the Warren town line, adding a handmade sign urging others to add a star spangled banner of their own.

The most patriotic town in America responded in a big way, and soon a two-mile long line of red, white and blue marched up Hope Street almost all the way to the stepping-off point of the parade at Hope and Chestnut streets. It was a beautiful project that brought people together and helped decorate the town.

But you know what they say about all good things.

With the 4th of July in the rearview mirror, it's time for the flag project to come to an end. The flags are starting to droop, some becoming tattered as the weeds grow taller around them. Not only is it starting to look less than pretty, it also threatens to become disrespectful to the flag.

But who is to clean up? Town Administrator Antonio Teixeira is wondering the same thing. The town hasn't the time or resources to pick up the several hundred flags that remain. Who knows when the state, which maintains Hope Street, may get around to it?

That leaves those who started it all — the people of Bristol.

The flag project was no coordinated, town-sponsored event. It was a spontaneous, grass-roots project, beginning with one anonymous person asking fellow community members to take it upon themselves to help decorate the town. It was exciting to drive by each day and see how much longer the flag line had gotten. It wasn't just about how nice it looked. It was seeing how many people this community project was bringing together.

It's time for the project to bring people together one more time, this time to finish what they started. If you planted a flag in the ground — or even if you didn't — head over the Hope Street and pull one up. Keep it as a souvenir if you wish, or drop it in the flag collection bin directly in front of Town Hall on Court Street for proper disposal.

We'll start.


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Displays of patriotism need to be kept to people's personal property. I doubt that it is even legal to post flags on public property -- after all, it isn't legal to post signs on public property, so why are flags any different? And if some of those flags ended up on private property, that certainly wasn't legal (unless the property owners agreed).

We are all patriots -- even a person with contrary views like me -- but it needs to be said that the American flag isn't just the flag any more; it has become a symbol of conservative ideology. That's why I'll never wear one on my clothes. Furthermore, let's not forget that the "most patriotic town in America" was heavily involved in the slave trade. Bristol originally adopted patriotism as a way to put a happy face on the immoral industry it fostered.

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Mike Rego has worked at East Bay Newspapers since 2001, helping the company launch The Westport Shorelines. He soon after became a Sports Editor, spending the next 10-plus years in that role before taking over as editor of The East Providence Post in February of 2012. To contact Mike to submit information, suggest story ideas or photo opportunities, etc., email mrego@eastbaynewspapers.com.