Sunday, September 2, 2012
A Symbol of Hope
Editors Note: Amherst does fly the American flag on the Town Common and Police/Fire stations 24/7 365 days a year.
The town purchased "commemorative flags" (currently numbering 25) in the summer of 2001 using tax money assigned to the veterans department commemoration fund, and on the night of September 10, 2001 created a policy restricted them to only six occasions per year, one of which is Memorial Day.
The commemorative flags were allowed to fly on 9/11 on the first anniversary in 2002 and again in 2003 but not in 2004 thru 2009. Amherst Town Meeting in 2007 turned down my "advisory" article to the Select Board (as only the Select Board has authority over the public ways, so it's their call) by an astonishing two-thirds vote.
Under public pressure the Select Board in 2009 came up with a "compromise" based on the Town Meeting vote, saying that since one-third of Town Meeting supported the flags they can go up once every three years. So they flew in 2009.
Then in 2010 Select Board Chair Stephanie O'Keeffe (who voted in favor of the flags flying annually when she was a town meeting member) turned down my annual request and came up with another compromise only allowing the commemorative flags up every five years or what she called "milestone anniversaries".
Thus the commemorative flags flew in 2011 on the tenth anniversary and are currently not scheduled to fly again until 2016.