When wicked winter winds whip across the Maumee River, the American flag takes a beating.
“The wind blows down the river valley. The flags along the bridge end up whipping and snapping, and damage is going to occur,” said John Perrin, flag memorial chairman with the Maumee memorial and flag committee.
During favorable weather - think mild temperatures, little or no wind - flags last six to eight months before they need to be replaced, Mr. Perrin said, but the flags along the Fort Meigs Memorial Bridge between Maumee and Perrysburg don t last much more than two or three months.
New flags are costly, and the memorial and flag committee recently asked the city for help in paying for a shipment of flags. City Council recently approved spending $7,323 for the new flags.
Maumee has on display between 200 and 250 flags that fly 24 hours a day, seven days a week, according to Mr. Perrin, a member of the Maumee Post No. 320 of the American Legion. Members of the memorial and flag committee include veterans from the American Legion and from the VFW post in the city, he said.
The cost for new flags has increased in the last couple of years because more flags have been on display since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Traditionally, the city displayed American flags on holidays, including Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day, and Veterans Day, Mayor Tim Wagener said, but since Sept. 11, 2001, the flags have been displayed every day, mainly along Conant Street in the city s Uptown business district.
It has become our hallmark,” said the mayor. “Our Uptown looks absolutely beautiful.”
In addition to the flags that the city purchases as part of the memorial and flag committee s program, the city purchases other flags, including city flags and Ohio flags, said Larry Gamble, director of public service for Maumee.
Flags atop the city s elevated water storage tank suffer the most damage because of the wind, Mr. Gamble said. “This time of the year, we are changing the flag about every week or every other week, he said.
Flags, he said, show patriotism.
During this period of time, I think we need to show that patriotism,” he said, noting that the flags add to the “general beauty of the whole city.”
During the current military conflicts, flags will continue to fly along Conant Street, city officials said. The display makes a great statement of support for those who are serving overseas, said Councilman Rich Carr.
Mr. Perrin commended city officials, as well as the other residents of Maumee, for their support “to keep the banner of freedom proudly displayed in our city.”
City workers remove the tattered flags and put up the new ones, he said.
“That s really a big help. You need a bucket truck to reach the flags to change them,” Mr. Perrin said. He saluted the Maumee Uptown Business Association for its support of the flag-flying program. MUBA, he said, purchased new brackets that make it easier to take down and put up the flags.
In this most recent shipment - the city has supported the purchase of flags for years, city officials said - 1,000 grave flags were purchased and about 500 larger flags, Mr. Perrin said. “We re so proud to do this. We re doing everything we can to keep the flags flying. We re proud to fly them.”
A ceremony is held each year at the American Legion post, Mr. Perrin said, to properly dispose of the tattered and torn flags. Last year nearly 3,500 were disposed of, he said.