Friday, April 06, 2001

Flag Town, USA

Color our pride red, white, blue

        Old Glory will fly intact, not in tatters, for another year from the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge.

        Greater Cincinnatians' civic pride and generosity have seen to that.

        Keep it up. Turn this place into Flag Town, USA. Wave the Stars and Stripes from every tall building.

        Unfurl the biggest flag in the Midwest for such holidays as Memorial Day, Flag Day, the Fourth of July and Veterans Day. Display this red, white and blue giant on one of Cincinnati's bridges.

        Too much flag waving? You can never have enough.

        Seem impossible? Consider the Suspension Bridge.

Flag friends
        In February, I wrote a column about the tattered American flag atop the bridge's Cincinnati tower.

        Members of the all-volunteer Covington-Cincinnati Suspension Bridge Committee told me they were low on funds and replacement flags. The committee keeps the lights lit as well as the American, Bicentennial, Ohio and Kentucky flags flying on Greater Cincinnati's most picturesque gateway.

        Every year, the committee needs $5,000 for new flags — the wind shreds them - plus $15,000 to keep the structure illuminated.

        The committee hopes to establish a $330,000 trust — $230,000 for lights, $100,000 for flags — to keep the bridge patriotic and bright in perpetuity.

        Since the column ran, the committee has received $4,988.68 for new flags. VFW posts chipped in. Financier Carl Lindner sent $2,500.

        Only one school contributed. Students and teachers at Colerain Middle School gave $201.68.

        For three weeks, Katie Budke and five other eighth-graders at the Bevis school raised money during lunch for the bridge's flags.

        Their social studies teacher, Jonathan Kuehnle, had used my flag column for a current-events lesson. He remembers telling his students “it was sad we had a flag flying in ribbons.”

        But, he told me, “it was their idea to raise money.”

        Katie and friends sat at a table in the cafeteria. They decorated an empty Girl Scout cookie box.

        “We asked kids to drop in spare change,” Katie said. “The bridge needed a nice flag. That ripped one makes our city look bad.”

        The fund-raisers figured, as Katie said, “if no one else is going to do it, we will.”

Old Glory City
        Such idealism made America great. That spirit can help fund the bridge's trust and turn this bend in the river into Flag Town, USA.

        Flags should fly from atop every prominent building in the skyline on both sides of the Ohio.

        A few rooftop flags flew Thursday. The Carew Tower waved Old Glory. So did the Provident and Firstar bank buildings. The Enquirer Building on Elm Street, I'm sorry to note, did not.

        Northern Kentucky's skyline boasts an impressive lineup of new buildings. Each owns a killer view of the river. Only one was topped by the American flag.

        Imagine how impressive it would be if every downtown building showed our nation's colors from its roof. Flags attached to a forest of poles would be fluttering in the breeze.

        Flying the flag this way acts as a potent reminder. People fought and died so we can enjoy the freedoms the flag represents.

        The Flag Town idea appeals to Katie Budke.

        “It would show the world,” she said, “Cincinnati has pride.”

       Columnist Cliff Radel can be reached at 768-8379; fax 768-8340.


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