Dear Editor:

In the Dec. 18 edition of the Carroll County Mirror-Democrat, it was reported from the Dec 10 Mount Carroll City Council meeting that Ald. Doug Bergren had said that "some veterans have complained that the American flags were taken down too soon."

At that point, Ald. Mike Risko asked "if the American flags needed to be up all year or should they be up three times each year, Memorial Day, July 4th and Veterans Day." Mr. Risko then said, "The American flags often get tied up with the flower baskets that are up in the spring and summer."

To the Mount Carroll American Legion’s defense, Mr. Bergren and Ald. Joe Grim correctly told the council that the American Legion is in charge of those flags, not the city. Mr. Bergren then added that he could talk to the American Legion on the possibility of not placing the flags on poles that have flower baskets on them.

First and foremost, allow me to point out that the American flags have graced the downtown area for many years now during the summer months. I absolutely have knowledge of this fact since I have been the post commander since 2008. Furthermore, I am quite positive that the American flags were placed there many years before that, during past Post Commander Mel Kehl's tenure as well, one heck of a lot longer than those flower baskets have been up.

The American flags are placed there from just prior to Memorial Day and then taken down, generally, right after Pearl Harbor Day. This is done out of respect for those tens of thousands that, first of all, gave their younger years in service to this great nation in military service, not only in peacetime but also during times of war, many of which never returned on the Land of the Free under their own power, but returned in caskets to be buried under those same colors.

There were also thousands who returned home with battle wounds that hampered them for the rest of their lives, walking with the aid of crutches, canes or wheelchairs, missing limbs or shrapnel wounds incurred in the defense of that same American flag.

Now this removal of some of the American flags was prompted by an entity of the Mount Carroll Downtown Beautification Committee, in talking with Mayor Carl Bates. It was said at that time that our American flags were getting tangled up in the Christmas wreaths and that something needed to be done about it before the Christmas Walk.

At that point, Mayor Bates contacted me by phone and asked if he could direct the city crew to take down all flags, with the exception of those at the corners of the downtown district. It was I that made the "Command Decision" to allow this to happen, only because they would all be removed for the winter within a few days’ time, and the weather would permit them to be dry so that they would not get molded from being wrapped while wet.

Mayor Bates concluded that this was an "olive branch" that would pacify the committee and he commended my decision. It was only a couple days later that it was my plan to inform the Legion Post membership of this decision and that, weather permitting, the rest of the American flags would be removed on the following Saturday.

However, at the Legion meeting I didn't get the chance to plead my case before I was told that this was a terribly wrong decision on my part. Subsequently, I agreed and vowed it would never happen again. Time and time again, I have been told how wonderful the downtown area looks with all those American flags flying, and to our defense, one of our Legionnaires took it upon himself to every morning walk to each flag and untangle it so it was hanging freely.

Mr. Bergren has yet to make contact with me as he so stipulated he would in the aforesaid city council meeting. That now will not be necessary as I will give him the same answer to the question as I will say here right now: I will not authorize the removal of any American flag from the downtown Mount Carroll area again from the time period of Memorial Day to Pearl Harbor Day.

If you think that the flower pots and Christmas wreaths are more important than the American flag gracing our downtown area, you are not thinking with the right side of you minds. If you are so worried about those flower pots, then lower them about six inches so that the American flag doesn't come anywhere near them. Furthermore, your Christmas wreaths could wait until after Pearl Harbor Day to be applied to those light poles.

That American flag is a large part of who we are as "One Nation Under God," and the American flags will not be tampered with. Those American flags were not bought and paid for by the City of Mount Carroll, and it has never cost the same one single penny to put them up and take them down. The American Legion Post 67 and the millions of Americans who served under that American flag are the ones who bought and paid for it, with our blood, sweat and many tears.

I will entertain any and all rebuttals to this posting. Oh, and yes, I'm plenty disturbed by this action of my home town. To all those who feel that our American flag should not fly in my home town, maybe you ought to rethink your position. You could be talking in a foreign language. Yours in American pride.

Richard Ottens

Commander

American Legion Post 67

Mount Carroll