Flags Flutter at Conn. Firehouse -- for Now

Aug. 17--OLD LYME -- In response to complaints from the community about their brief absence, the American flags on Lyme Street will stay up through Veterans Day.

The Old Lyme Fire Department's American flags lined Lyme Street this summer until the town took them down after the Midsummer Festival in late July, with the intention of installing them again for holidays such as Labor Day, said First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder.

This schedule was based on a compromise reached last fall with the Historic District Commission and the Old Lyme Fire Department, she said.

But the fire department, which had also installed the flags for a period last year, was under the understanding that the flags would remain throughout the summer. The department responded to their removal with a sign outside of the Lyme Street Firehouse saying the fire department supported the return of the flags.

The fire department contacted Reemsnyder and said there were numerous complaints about the flags having been taken down, she said.

"I asked that any concerns be emailed to me, so that I could understand the feelings of the community," wrote Reemsnyder in an email interview last week. "After several days, it was apparent that there were many, many people who were disappointed that the flags came down, so I asked (Public Works) to put them up on Friday, and they will remain up through Veterans Day, unless weather conditions warrant they come down for short periods."

Reemsnyder said in an earlier interview that the flags' removal was not about patriotism or a lack of it. Some residents had felt that the flags would stand out more if they were put up to highlight holidays, such as Veterans Day, she said. There are also many existing American flags along Lyme Street -- outside of residences, for instance. "We as officials try to listen to all sides of the issue," she said.

John Cody, a member of the fire department who spoke in his capacity as the adjutant of Old Lyme's American Legion Post 0041, said many in the community wanted the flags back up to honor the soldiers who are fighting overseas for the country's freedom.

"We want people who pass through our lovely town to see that we honor these men and women who are putting their lives on the line every day so we can have the freedoms we enjoy every day," said Cody, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.

k.drelich@theday.com

Twitter: @KimberlyDrelich

Copyright 2014 - The Day, New London, Conn.

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