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Town Common flag flap gets some clarity: Thin Blue Line flag not meant to offend

by | Jul 5, 2024 | Featured: News, News

The Town Common flag mystery is not completely resolved, but there is an explanation for why the Thin Blue Line flag had been hanging off the gazebo.

It was placed there by longtime gazebo volunteer custodian Mike Whalen, who shared that he did not mean for it be taken as a political statement. The flag — one of eight different flags hanging from the gazebo — actually had been flying since before Memorial Day. When a resident noticed it and complained last week, leading up to Thursday’s July 4 Horribles Parade, the police had it removed and replaced with an American flag that for some undetermined reason was sitting on the gazebo railing. A separate American flag flies from a stand-alone flagpole located a few feet away from the gazebo.

The Thin Blue Line flag, which has a blue center stripe, has been used to show solidarity with police across the country. The blue line is meant to illustrate the line between law and order and chaos. But others have used it as a symbol of white supremacy over the past several years, according to an article on politico.com.

Earlier this year, a Gadsden flag — a yellow flag with a rattlesnake and the words “DONT TREAD ON ME” underneath it — flew from the same spot. This flag, which originated during the American Revolution, most recently has been adopted by anti-government activists and was featured prominently during the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

“There was no intent on my part to offend anyone — absolutely no politics involved,” Whalen stated. “I’m not on any social media … and I am too busy to spend much time watching the news. Every year, I look through a flag catalog for ideas — either some historic or military flags.”

Whalen, who volunteers primarily for causes related to military veterans and the town’s cemeteries, explained that he maintains the gazebo flags, replaces them when one is missing and purchases new flags on his own.

“I took on this duty years ago — starting on the old gazebo,” he shared. “The town does not pay me, and I do not send a bill for the cost of the flags. After I place all the service flags — Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Space Force, Coast Guard, Merchant Marine — there is one spot left. Over the years, I have placed dozens of different patriotic flags in that location. Some of them include Seabees, POW/MIA, National Guard, Toys for Tots, Massachusetts State Flag, Seal Team, Army Reserve and certain American Flags given to me by family members of deceased veterans.

“As the original gazebo was first built and dedicated to my uncle William Whalen in 1988, I have assumed this job because the town never put any procedure in place to maintain these flags and associated parts.”

Whalen added that “no one has ever suggested a flag” to be hung off the gazebo, and that “this is the first time anyone has ever commented” on one.

2 Comments

  1. Brendan Tedstone

    Mike Whalen as a wonderful person. His dedication to our veterans in town has been selfless and mostly anonymous. He is not a political person and certainly would never do anything to lessen the integrity of the gazebo or the town. He has no axe to grind. I’d love to see the flag remain. What the people in the town and some of the statewide hate groups have done to our police department, it’d be a great show of support for the men and women who protect us every day. Remembering that “peaceful protest” on the common a few years ago and how that tore our police department apart.

    Reply
  2. Stephen D Small

    So, if someone complains about the US Marine flag, you will have it removed?
    I venture to say that if a plebiscite were held, the “Thin Blue Line” flag would be back.

    Reply

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