Fairhaven Historical Commission Explains Why Fort Phoenix Flag Remains at Full Staff
Residents on social media have been questioning why, in the days following the terrorist attack at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan killed 13 U.S. service members, the flag at Fairhaven’s Fort Phoenix has remained at full staff.
A poster in a Fairhaven-related Facebook group asked on Monday morning why the flag has remained at full staff since the attack on August 28, for which the group ISIS-K has taken credit.
In a post to its Facebook page, the Fairhaven Historical Commission explained that the mechanism to raise or lower the flag is damaged.
“The Fairhaven Historical Commission is responsible for the flag that flies at Fort Phoenix. We meant no disrespect for not flying the flag at half-staff for the entire time of honor for the servicemen killed in Afghanistan,” the commission wrote in the post. “There is a problem with the pulley or ‘truck’ at the top of the pole.”
Wayne Oliveira, Chairman of the Fairhaven Historical Commission, offered an explanation on the mechanics of the flagpole, saying that a technical issue is behind the problem. The pulley at the top of the pole is damaged. When the flag is lowered, the rope pulls to the side, which would knock the pulley off of the pole completely, creating even more damage and resulting in no flag flying whatsoever.
“If we put the flag at half-staff, we chance damaging the truck further by the rope pulling on an angle, and then we cannot fly a flag at all,” the post stated. “We made the decision to leave the flag at full staff, as to not cause further damage, in honor of all who (are in) service to the United States of America.” The post also stated the commission felt it would “have been far more disrespectful” to remove the flag when able to fly it at half-staff.
“We are trying to do the right thing,” said Oliveira. He explained that, to fix the pole, it comes with a substantial price tag.
“We have to get up there with a bucket truck and we will have to saw off about six inches of the pole,” explained Oliveira. “Once we do that, the flag company that we use will have to fabricate a new top for the pole at a cost of $1,200, then go back up with the bucket truck to get the cap over the pole. We estimate it will take about two to three weeks.”
It might not seem like $1,200 is a lot of money, but the commission works with a limited budget of $3,000 a year, creating a tough scenario for any financial decision.
The commission has plans to begin repairs in October, when the tourist season winds down. In the meantime, the flag will fly at full staff to continue to pay respect to those who have served and continue to serve this country.